Factors Affecting the Help-Seeking Behaviour of Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Groups for Mental Health Services in the UK: A Literature Review

Lucy Jacobs, Panagiotis Pentaris


Background: There are numerous reports from government publications, mental health charities, the World Health Organisation and array of journal articles all writing about mental health issues in relation to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME). It appears to have become common knowledge that there are disparities in the treatment received by BAME individuals from mental health services. It also commonly reported that BAME individuals are more likely to access mental services via adverse routes, this prognosis is said to worsen in the case of Black males.

Aims: This review aims to explore what factors influence BAME individuals’ help-seeking behaviour for mental health services in the UK. It also explores why BAME individuals access mental health services at certain entry points.

Methodology: This is a systematic literature review of 16 peer-reviewed journal articles reporting on data from UK-based studies, with a critical analysis in a thematic style. 

Findings: The help-seeking behaviours of participants in the studies are strongly determined by the values and beliefs they hold, which are deeply steeped in their culture. BAME individuals report that mental health professionals do not understand nor seek to understand their religious and cultural views on mental illnesses. Also, the impact of internalised and external stigma instigates secrecy whereby individuals hide their symptoms from professional mental health services and even from their extended family members.

Conclusion: Culture plays a major role and impacts directly on peoples’ help-seeking behaviours. Individuals from BAME background tend to seek support from extended family members for physical illnesses but often hide their mental symptoms. 



ethnic minorities; help-seeking behaviour; beliefs; stigma; service provision; acculturation; BAME

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/gswr.v2i1.1251


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