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Exploring barriers to South Asian help-seeking for eatingdisorders

Wales, Jackie; Brewin, Nicola; Raghavan, Raghu; Arcelus, Jon


Jackie Wales

Nicola Brewin

Raghu Raghavan

Clinical Professor in Mental Health & Transgender Health


Purpose: Referrals to specialist eating disorder (ED) services from the South Asian (SA) community are under-represented, despite research suggesting that disordered eating attitudes and behaviours of SA people are similar to the population in general. The purpose of this paper is to identify the reasons for this and sought to inform ways to encourage help-seeking.
Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative methodology was used to investigate barriers to help-seeking for EDs among the SA community. A key informant focus group was conducted with clinicians working within the local specialist ED service (participants n=16, 12 female, 4 male). Six focus groups were conducted with members of the SA community in Leicester, UK (participants n=28, 23 female, 5 male), recruited from a local university, two charities and Children, Young People and Family Centres.
Findings: A number of themes emerged as possible factors for delaying early access to help: lack of knowledge about EDs and their potential seriousness, ideals regarding body shape, family living circumstances and the role of food in the community. Participants acknowledged stigma among their community associated with mental health issues, including EDs and concerns about confidentiality when approaching services, particularly primary care.
Originality/value: General practitioners and specialist services need to be aware of the potential barriers to help-seeking for EDs as early specialist help is recommended for effective treatment. An educational campaign around EDs specifically designed with the SA community in mind may improve awareness, reduce stigma and promote early help-seeking.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 30, 2017
Journal Mental Health Review Journal
Print ISSN 1361-9322
Electronic ISSN 2042-8758
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 1
Pages 40-50
APA6 Citation Wales, J., Brewin, N., Raghavan, R., & Arcelus, J. (2017). Exploring barriers to South Asian help-seeking for eatingdisorders. Mental Health Review Journal, 22(1), 40-50. doi:10.1108/MHRJ-09-2016-0017
Keywords Eating disorders, help-seeking, barriers, mental health, South Asian, ethnicity
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf


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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

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