Mental ill health and diversity : Researching human suffering and resilience in a multicultural context

Sammanfattning: The general objective of this dissertation was to study the putative underutilisation of mental health services in a multicultural context. The method followed a qualitative interview-based naturalistic approach, and the interview format was primarily semi-structured. Special attention in the method section has been given to the role of the interpreter in research. For some time the research areas of underutilisation of mental health care among immigrants, and that of children of immigrant parents suffering from mental illness, have been dominated by a vulnerability approach. Results from the present thesis show that this one-dimensional picture of immigrants as a category associated with psychopathology ought to be balanced with that of strength and resilience. It was also found in the studied group that underutilisation of mental health care is partly due to the perception of mental conditions as normal life crises, rather than illnesses. Thus, instead of focusing on health care resources, interviewees conveyed their need for greater social and financial support. The results of this study suggest that there is a lack of extended possibilities, for both adults and children of immigrant background, to express their own needs outside a predefined context. Investigating aspects of resilience in future research on mental ill health in multicultural contexts would challenge the focus on vulnerability, and perhaps so promote resilience.