Exploring BAME young people’s attitudes towards accessing counselling

  • Mohammed Khan

Student thesis: Phd


Abstract Background: Much remains unknown about the attitudes of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) young people towards accessing counselling. The BAME adult population commonly report accessing psychological help as a last resort due to the perceived stigma and shame attached to such help. To date, however, we do not know the encouraging and discouraging factors for BAME young people when seeking support for mental health difficulties. Aims Therefore, the aims of this study were to explore: 1) the attitudes of BAME young people (between the ages of 11 and 25), regarding their help-seeking behaviour, towards accessing counselling; 2) some of the advantages and disadvantages BAME young people encounter when they are considering accessing counselling; 3) the viewpoints of those professionals who have worked previously or are currently working with BAME young people in order to understand further some of the barriers BAME young people face when accessing counselling. Research Questions This study will focus on two main research questions: • What are BAME young people’s encouraging factors when considering accessing counselling? • What are BAME young people’s discouraging factors when considering accessing counselling? Method: Four focus groups were carried out comprising two focus groups made up of BAME young people and two focus groups made up of professionals, within the United Kingdom. A purposive sample of 33 individuals took part. The BAME young people were aged between 11 and 25. The groups comprised a combination of males and females. The focus groups were semi-structured in nature and focused upon the encouraging and discouraging factors they perceived around accessing counselling. The data was analysed using a thematic analysis. Findings: BAME young people are discouraged from considering accessing counselling due to the stigma attached to mental health problems within their communities. They perceive that discussing mental health problems might be subjected to unfair judgement based on their difficulties and not being able to uphold the positive image of their community. In contrast, BAME young people positively view accessing counselling/psychological services online as there is less likelihood of them being stigmatised and bringing shame to their family. They would also be more likely to access counselling if the professionals involved in the counselling services had an understanding of their cultures and religious belief systems. The findings from this project suggest that ‘ethnic matching’ might encourage BAME young people to access mental health services. Conclusion: BAME young people believe that professionals who have an embedded understanding of what it is like to be from these communities will also have a greater understanding of their situation. As such, this dynamic has the potential to have a positive impact on the therapeutic alliance. Providing online access also appeared to be more appealing to BAME young people due to the anonymity associated with it. Based upon these findings, suggestions for training, policymaking and future research are made.  
Date of Award31 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTerry Hanley (Supervisor) & Laura Winter (Supervisor)


  • online counselling
  • shame
  • stigma
  • awareness
  • ethnic matching
  • family
  • cultures
  • Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)
  • Black
  • mental health problem

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