Factors influencing mental-health help-seeking in Arabic-speaking communities in Sydney, Australia
Traditionally, the utilization of mental-health services by Arabic-speaking communities in Australia has been low. Interviews were conducted with 35 key informants from Arabic-speaking backgrounds, exploring their perceptions of mental illness in the Arab community, together with preferred forms of support and treatment. Transcript analysis of audio-taped interviews identified key themes that inhibited professional mental-health help-seeking and utilization of mental-health services. Shame and stigma appeared to be the overwhelming hindrance to accessing services, due to the strong cultural prohibitions on exposing any personal or family matters to outsiders. The findings emphasized the perceived negative effect of mental illness on important cultural institutions, such as marriage. The results revealed strong concerns about confidentiality and lack of trust in service providers. Religious leaders were identified as important sources of help for mental-health problems. Better promotion of existing mental-health services, working more closely with Arabic religious leaders, and families were some of the suggested strategies to improve help-seeking and mental-health service utilization.