A qualitative study of barriers to mental health services utilisation among migrants from mainland China in South-East Sydney

Ilse Blignault, Vince Ponzio, Rong Ye, Maurice Eisenbruch

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80 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chinese-language speakers comprise the largest non-English speaking population in Australia but they have among the lowest rates of mental health services utilisation. Material: A bilingual (Mandarin/English) researcher conducted in-depth interviews with China-born mental health patients and members of the general community, and mental health service providers. Discussion: Participants identified several factors that limit access to mental healthcare as well as the quality of care received: mental health literacy, communication difficulties, stigma, confidentiality concerns, service constraints and discrimination. Cross-cultural communication was not just a matter of hearing individual words but also appreciating idioms and cultural and social references. Conclusion: Findings have implications for the prevention and treatment of mental disorders among migrants from China, and caution against assuming heterogeneity within ethnic groups. Mental health services must become more culturally competent in their attempts to engage the target group and to deliver both acute and continuing care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-190
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


  • Australia
  • Chinese migrants
  • Communication barriers
  • Culture
  • Mental health services utilisation

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