Background: This study sets out to examine the relationship between culture beliefs about the causes of mental distress and attitudes associated with seeking professional help for psychological problems. It was hypothesised that there is a meaningful and statistical relationship between these variables and that there will be a difference in this relationship between Asians and Westerners. Participants were 287 adults belonging to three groups (British Asian, western European and Pakistanis).
Method: Participants completed two questionnaires: the Orientations to Seeking Professional Help (Fischer and Turner 1970) and the Mental Distress Explanatory Model Questionnaire (Eisenbruch 1990) and a demographic data sheet.
Results: Analysis indicated that positive attitudes toward seeking professional help for psychological distress were similar for British Asians, Westerners and Pakistanis. There were significant differences between the three groups in the causal attributions of mental distress. Although culture, as a variable, was not a significant predictor of a positive attitude to seeking professional help, causal beliefs of mental distress were significant predictors of attitudes to seeking help for the British Asian and the Pakistani groups. Beliefs were not significant predictors for attitudes to seeking help for the Western group.
Conclusion: It was concluded that culturally determined causal beliefs of mental distress contribute to attitudes towards seeking professional help for psychological problems for Asians. Implications for both research and the provision of more appropriate health services for the British Asian minority group in the United Kingdom are discussed.