University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-503
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Early online date16 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


The onset of mental illness can have a significant impact on individuals' lives and on the people who they come into contact with in their social networks. This paper presents the findings of the exploratory stage of a larger study that aims to examine the role of social networks in the help-seeking process of Chinese people suffering from severe mental illness in England. The study used a qualitative phenomenological approach in which in-depth interviews were conducted with three Chinese people suffering from severe mental illness and four network ties who were involved in the help-seeking process. The results of the study showed that family may not be involved in every stage of help-seeking. The size of social networks of Chinese people suffering from mental illness became bigger and the composition of social networks became more diverse after their first contact with mental health services. The implications of the study encourage social workers and mental health professionals to explore resources in the wider social networks to ensure that Chinese people suffering from mental illness receive ad- equate support to meet their mental health needs.


© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved. This is the accepted manuscript version of an article which has been published in final form at

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