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OBJECTIVES: Most lifetime mental health problems (MHP) start before the age of 25. Yet young people-particularly those of minority backgrounds-often do not seek or access professional help. In the UK, young people of Eastern European (EE) backgrounds represent a large minority group; however, little is known about their experiences of MHP and help-seeking. In this study, we aim to understand the help-seeking process from the perspectives of EE young people. DESIGN: We used a qualitative study design with semi-structured individual interviews. The results were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. METHOD: Twelve young people (18-25 years) of EE backgrounds, living in Oxfordshire, UK, took part. All participants had experienced a severe MHP and were identified in the community. RESULTS: EE young people's experiences of MHP and help-seeking were driven by a sense of being caught between different cultures and simultaneously needing to navigate the potentially contrasting expectations of both cultures. This process was reinforced or tempered by the perceived continuing influence of young people's families, that is, families with more open views about MHP made it easier for young people to navigate through the process of help-seeking. Young people's internalised cultural and familial beliefs about MHP affected their decision-making when experiencing difficulties, their levels of trust in services, and perceived sense of resourcefulness and ability to cope. CONCLUSIONS: Recognising and responding to the cultural tension that young people of EE backgrounds may experience can help us to develop more accessible and inclusive mental health services.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Psychother

Publication Date



barriers and facilitators, early intervention, thematic analysis, youth mental health