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Immigrant Youth Experiences in Help-Seeking for Mental Health Issues

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Immigrant Youth Experiences in Help-Seeking for Mental Health Issues


Acknowledging and treating mental health issues properly among the immigrants and the refugees in primary care creates some challenges. It is because of different culture/language, specific stressors connected to the migration, along with resettlement. Despite the high prevalence of the mental health issues and disorders developed in the immigrant adolescence, they tend not to seek professional help. The immigrant youths tend to be reluctant in seeking help, especially when they know they have mental health problems. They feel emotionally incompetent in expressing their feelings and challenged in developing trusted relationships with the potential providers of help (McCann et al., 2016). Thus, this study aims at finding out the experiences of immigrant youth in seeking help for mental health disorders. The research goal is to find out the problems that immigrant youth face and the resources needed to support them.

Literature Review

The debate is ongoing concerning the role of adolescents in immigrant families and its impact in their development. The immigrants adolescent are always tasked with the responsibility of the non-traditional roles in the family, which may lead to a shift in power between parent and child (Amri & Bemak, 2013). The peer pressure, discrimination, racism, and social pressure for conforming to mainstream values may put the immigrant youth in the vulnerable position in which they may be pertinent to undergo psychological issues like anxiety and depression (Amri & Bemak, 2013). For that matter, it is critical to offer culturally responsive services to these immigrant youths, which considers the mental health needs for their social, family, and cultural well-being.

The western resettlement countries have the general agreement that most of the immigrant adolescents with social, behavior, as well as mental health issues should access mental healthcare. Conversely, the paucity of research is present on the refugee adolescents’ service utilization and help-seeking for mental health (De Anstiss & Ziaian, 2010). Many studies to date center on the adolescents in the general population, but are still limited. This research carries the qualitative study through the literature review of various scholars about this topic of help-seeking among the immigrant youths and their experiences.

The issues concerning the underutilization of the mental health services together with the unmet demands arise given the high risk of mental health challenges among the young population of the immigrant background. O’Connor and other scholars (2014) claim that it is fundamental to enhance the knowledge of the factors, which constitute the impediments to the service user and determinants that can facilitate the appropriate service access. They also acknowledge the little existence of immigrant-specific and the youth-specific studies in this area of study on mental help-seeking and the service utilization. The barriers that hinder seeking of services are understood poorly like the factors, which influence the effectiveness of the facilities for the immigrants once accessed. The research gap is still present in this area of study since low priority is placed on mental health of the immigrants, the poor health, as well as the service knowledge. Other factors causing the gap are the distrust of the services, the stigma linked to the psychological problems, along with the social or the cultural determinants that affect the way in which the issues are understood.


The qualitative research design will be employed in this study. It entails using in-depth interviews, participant observation method, and focusing on the groups. The research focuses on finding out the experiences of immigrant youth in seeking help for mental health disorders. In that case, the non-probability sampling technique will be appropriate to collect this information. The researcher will then focus on different sampling techniques, such as snowball sampling, which entails inquiries from every individual who has been interviewed or surveyed so that they could identify another person for the same interview. The data collection would involve using unstructured or informal interviews.

The strategy of data collection would involve using unstructured or informal interviews. This kind of discussion concerns the loser to the guided conversation whereby the goal of the researcher is eliciting from the rich of the interviewee, the detailed materials to be used in the qualitative analysis. The scholar would conduct face-to-face interviews used in exploring the in-depth understanding of the meaning of the immigrant youth experiences. This strategy of data collection would be used since it gives purpose to understand the participants in a better way and ensure that the researcher records and transcribes the experiences of the participants accordingly. The researcher will collect the data through face-to-face interviews.


The sampling strategy that will be used for this research is non-probability sampling, which entails gathering the samples in the process. This strategy is biased since it never gives the individuals in the population equal chances of being selected for the study. The study focuses on finding out the experiences of immigrant youth in seeking help for mental health disorders. In that case, non-probability sampling would be the appropriate sampling technique to collect this information. This technique will assist the researcher to find more participants for the study. The researcher will also apply the convenience sampling by selecting the participants who are accessible with a lot of ease. The scholar will also use the purposive sampling technique to choose the most representative participants of this research topic.

The face-to-face data collection will be preferable to the phone because telephone interviews involve significant considerations. Those considerations include recording as well as saving the conversation so that it can be transcribed for analysis. The telephone interviews also mean that the signed consent should be acquired before conducting the meeting and the researcher will have to introduce the study as well as discuss the permission of the participant over the phone. Lastly, the phone interview will not give the researcher the opportunity to see the body language or the facial expressions of the interviewees (Kirmayer et al., 2011). In that case, the research will miss the important cues from the participants’ body movements, which may help in directing the conversation. Thus, the face-to-face interviews will allow the researcher to connect with the participants and to understand their experiences better.

Recommendations from other Studies

Colucci et al. (2012) identified the multiple barriers and facilitators of access along with the engagement with the services of the mental health. Most of the issues that they raised concerning entrance and participation among the immigrant youth of refugee backgrounds are similar to the findings that previous literature had identified for the youths in general and general immigrants. Conversely, additional factors are present for the youth of refugee background, such as the one under current studies concerning their experiences when seeking help from mental health services. In that case, Colucci et al. (2012) recommended that further investigation of this issue should be carried out to inform the service responses.

These scholars propose that it is necessary to explore views of the young immigrants about the barriers and the facilitators. The individuals of immigrant background should be involved in the process, especially the users of the services, their families, as well as community members. The young immigrants who participated in the roundtable discussion were disappointed as well as frustrated by general failure to integrate the experiences and the voices of the refugees in the design of the service delivery, which represents the barrier to access the services, in their opinion (Derr, 2015). For that matter, the scholars recommended that the study should be repeated with a large population being the young immigrants who have been touched with the services in mental health. They also propose that similar work, like the one for Anstiss and collaborators on the general population of the adolescents from the refugee background, should also be performed with the people of the young immigrants who use the service and the young immigrants with mental health problems, but avoid engagement with the mental health services.


The research focuses on finding out the experiences of immigrant youth in seeking help for the mental health disorders. This study purpose is to identify the risk factors that the immigrant youth experience in help-seeking for the mental health challenges. The research goal is to find out the problems that the immigrant youth face and the resources needed to support them. This study will assist in expanding the previous literature that had been carried on this topic by both Colucci et al. (2012), together with Anstiss and collaborators. It is based on their recommendation of repeating the similar study with a large population, being the young immigrants who have been touched by the services in mental health and the young immigrants with mental health problems, but avoid engagement with the mental health services (David, 2010). For that matter, the study will help in knowing the areas of weaknesses in the service delivery and even assist in overcoming the stigmas associated with seeking such services.


Amri, S., & Bemak, F. (2013). Mental health help-seeking behaviors of Muslim immigrants in the United States: Overcoming social stigma and cultural mistrust. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1).

Colucci, E., Minas, H., Szwarc, J., Paxton, G., & Guerra, C. (2012). Barriers to and facilitators of utilization of mental health services by young people of refugee background. Melbourne: Foundation House.

David, E. J. R. (2010). Cultural mistrust and mental health help-seeking attitudes among Filipino Americans. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 1(1), 57.

De Anstiss, H., & Ziaian, T. (2010). Mental health help-seeking and refugee adolescents: Qualitative findings from a mixed-methods investigation. Australian Psychologist, 45(1), 29-37.

Derr, A. S. (2015). Mental health service use among immigrants in the United States: A systematic review. Psychiatric Services, 67(3), 265-274.

Kirmayer, L. J., Narasiah, L., Munoz, M., Rashid, M., Ryder, A. G., Guzder, J., … & Pottie, K. (2011). Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: the general approach in primary care. Cmaj, 183(12), E959-E967.

McCann, T. V., Mugavin, J., Renzaho, A., & Lubman, D. I. (2016). Sub-Saharan African migrant youths’ help-seeking barriers and facilitators for mental health and substance use problems: a qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 16(1), 275.

O’connor, P. J., Martin, B., Weeks, C. S., & Ong, L. (2014). Factors that influence young people’s mental health helpseeking behaviour: A study based on the Health Belief Model. Journal of advanced nursing, 70(11), 2577-2587.

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