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

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2008 Nov;43(11):866-71. doi: 10.1007/s00127-008-0373-6. Epub 2008 May 23.


Background: 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.

Objectives: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

MeSH terms

  • Asian People / psychology
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / ethnology*
  • Depressive Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • White People / psychology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*