Psychological Distress and Access to Services Among a Community Sample of the South Asian Population in South East England
South Asian people are less likely to have their mental health needs recognised and experience inequality in access to services, compared to the White British population in the UK. Attempts through government policy to improve equality in mental health care and outcomes have had limited success. The aim of this study was to explore access to and experiences of services among people of South Asian origin living in the UK who were experiencing distress. An anonymous survey was distributed in GP surgeries and online, collecting a community sample of 103 adults who self-identified as South Asian. The survey contained questionnaires measuring distress, quality of life, acculturation and access to and experience of services for mental health. Between 33% and 50% of the sample was above the threshold for distress, depending on the measure used, while 40% reported a low quality of life. Those who were unemployed had greater levels of distress. Half of the sample had sought help for emotional problems in the past, with the majority seeking help in the NHS. Greater acculturation was associated with reduced distress and a higher quality of life. Seeking help from services was predicted by experiencing distress, being female and having a physical health problem. Clinical implications for mental health service delivery as well as the need for further research relating to the recognition of mental health problems in primary care are discussed.