Moving Towards Mental Wellness by Shifting Cultural Connectedness: A Grounded Theory Study
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New Zealand’s population is increasingly ethnically diverse, including rapid growth in the number of South Asian immigrants. With this changing population, there is mounting evidence that the health outcomes for South Asians in New Zealand need closer examination in the field of mental health. Specifically, there has been little systematic examination of the role of culture in enabling (or impeding) recovery from mental distress for South Asian people living in New Zealand. Using constructivist grounded theory, this research examined the perspectives of 11 South Asian service users and five family participants on the process of recovery from mental distress. The research question for this study was "What is the process of recovery for South Asian people accessing mental health services in New Zealand?” The theory of shifting cultural connectedness was developed from an iterative process using constant comparative analysis and conceptualisation, theoretical sampling, and theoretical sensitivity. The research study explored the conflict and trauma that the participants experienced in New Zealand after moving from collectivistic culture to highly individualistic culture. Out of this emerged a clearer picture of the stressors faced and the conditions of life stage, social support and family dynamics that led the participants to become mentally distressed. By shifting cultural connectedness, the participants balanced the conflict and moved towards mental wellbeing. This study highlighted the importance of understanding the different perspectives that people bring to the meaning of mental distress. Clinicians require awareness of their own cultural perspectives and those of the service user in order to provide an effective service. The research has the potential to stimulate critical reflection and ongoing dialogue with mental health clinicians, practice and services regarding the concept of recovery, particularly in terms of how it relates to culture, race, diversity and mental health service delivery in New Zealand. Consequently, there is additional potential for improving mental health service delivery and outcomes for a culturally diverse and growing population.