Ethnic differences in mental health service use among White, Chinese, South Asian and South East Asian populations living in Canada




Health services in Canada are publicly funded. However, the use of health services, especially mental health services, by ethnic minority groups in Canada, has not been well studied.


The objectives of the study were to estimate the 12-month prevalence of mental health service use by ethnicities, overall and among those with major depression, and to identify factors associated with mental health services use in different ethnic groups in Canada.


Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS-1.1) were used. Participants included in this analysis were white who were born in Canada (n = 108,192), white immigrants (n = 10,892), Chinese (n = 1,785), South Asian (n = 1,214), and South East Asian immigrants (n = 818). Participants were selected using multiple staged, stratified random sampling procedures from household residents aged 12 years or older in ten provinces.


White people were more likely to have used mental health services than Chinese participants and those from South Asian and South East Asian regions. The Chinese participants appeared to be less likely to have used mental health services than those in the South Asian and South East Asian groups, in those without major depression.


In Canada, Asian immigrants are less likely to use mental health service use than white people. More studies are needed to examine factors affecting mental health service use in Asian immigrants living in North America.


ethnic differences mental health service use major depressive episode prevalence Asian immigrants 



The analyses are done using the data from Statistics Canada. However, the opinions and views expressed do not represent those of Statistics Canada.


  1. 1.
    Abe-Kim J, Takeuchi DT, Hong S, Zane N, Sue S, Spencer MS, Appel H, Nicdao E, Alegria M (2007) Use of mental health-related services among immigrant and US-born Asian Americans: results from the national Latino and Asian American Study. Am J Public Health 97:91–98PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    American Psychiatric Association (1987) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd edn—revised version). American Psychiatric Association, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Beiser M, Hou F (2001) Language acquisition, unemployment and depressive disorder among Southeast Asian refugees: a 10-year study. Soc Sci Med 53:1321–1334PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Belanger A, Caron Melenfant E, Martel L, Carriere Y, Hicks C, Rowe G (2005) Population projections of visible minority groups, Canada, provinces and regions, 2001–2017. Statistics Canada, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Breslau J, Chang DF (2006) Psychiatric disorders among foreign-born and US-born Asian–Americans in a US national survey. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 41:943–950PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hu T, Snowden LR, Jerrell JM, Nguyen TD (1991) Ethnic populations in public mental health services: choices and level of use. Am J Public Health 81:1429–1434PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    International Organization for Migration (IOM) (2003) World migration 2003: managing migration: challenges and responses for people on the move. International Organization for Migration, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kessler RC, Andrews G, Mroczek D, Ustun B, Wittchen H (1998) The World Health Organization composite international diagnostic interview short form (CIDISF). Int J Methods Psychiatr Res 7:171–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kinzie JD (1985) Overview of clinical issues in the treatment of Southeast Asian refugees. In: Owan TC (eds) Southeast Asian mental health: treatment, prevention, services, training, and research. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, pp 113–136Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Klimidis S, McKenzie D, Lewis J, Minas H (2000) Continuity of contact with psychiatric services: immigrants and Australian-born patients. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 35:554–563PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mojtabai R, Olfson M (2006) Treatment seeking for depression in Canada and the United States. Psychiatr Serv 57:631–639PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Murray CJ, Lopez AD (1996) The global burden of disease: A comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from disease, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Harvard University Press, USAGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rhodes AE, Fung K (2004) Self-reported use of mental health services versus administrative records: care to recall? Int J Methods Psychiatr Res 13(3):165–175PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Schmidley D (2003) The foreign-born population in the United States: March 2002. US Census Bureau, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Shen YC, Zhang MY, Huang YQ, He YL, Liu ZR, Cheng H, Tsang A, Lee S, Kessler RC (2006) Twelve-month prevalence, severity, and unmet need for treatment of mental disorders in metropolitan China. Psychol Med 36:257–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Snowden LR (2007) Explaining mental health treatment disparities: ethnic and cultural differences in family involvement. Cult Med Psychiatry 31:389–402PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Stata Corp (2003) Stata statistical software: release 8.0. college station. Stata Corporation, TXGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sue S (1999) Asian American mental health: what we know and don’t know. In: Lonner WJ, Dinnel DL (eds) Merging past, present, and future in cross-cultural psychology. Swets and Zeitlinger, Lisse, the Netherlands, pp 82–89Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Takeuchi DT, Chung RC, Lin KM, Shen H, Kurasaki K, Chun CA, Sue S (1998) Lifetime and twelve-month prevalence rates of major depressive episodes and dysthymia among Chinese Americans in Los Angeles. Am J Psychiatry 155:1407–1414PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Takeuchi DT, Zane N, Hong S, Chae DH, Gong F, Gee GC, Walton E, Sue S, Alegria M (2007) Immigration-related factors and mental disorders among Asian Americans. Am J Public Health 97:84–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tiwari SK, Wang JL (2006) The epidemiology of mental and substance use-related disorders among white, Chinese, and other Asian populations in Canada. Can J Psychiatry 51:904–912PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Psychiatry, Dept. of Community Health Services, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.CalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations