Mental Illness Stigma Among Chinese Immigrants and Culturally Adapted Psychotherapy Approaches

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Du, Xiaojun (Celia)
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The world's largest ethnic group is Chinese. As of 2023, China's population is estimated at 1.45 billion, equivalent to 18.47% of the total world population. According to the Government of Canada (2021), China is an essential source country for both permanent and temporary migration. Approximately 1.8 million Canadians are of Chinese descent, accounting for around 5.1% of Canada's total population. China is the second-largest source of new Canadian permanent residents. According to the 2021 Canadian census, Chinese Canadians number 512,260, or 19.38%, of the metropolitan Vancouver total population (Government of Canada, 2022). The importance of understanding the mental health perspective of the Chinese population in Canada, especially in Vancouver, and of serving them better is hard to overstate. The Chinese immigrant population, one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in Canada, has been known to hold a bigger stigma toward mental illness than other ethnic groups. Mental illness stigma creates barriers to help-seeking behaviour, limits treatment options and negatively impacts the effectiveness of the treatment. This paper explores the central Chinese beliefs that underlie the stigma, including the influences of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. The paper also traces unique cultural principles and impacts related to this stigma, including the idea of collective harmony, the model minority image, the need to save face at all costs, and widespread fears about the genetic transmission of mental illness within families. Intergenerational differences in stigma about mental illness among Chinese immigrants are also discussed.
stigma , Chinese immigrants , losing face , culturally adapted therapy