Becoming "another brick in the wall": A thematic analysis of Central and Eastern European immigrants' experiences of psychological distress and help-seeking

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Chtereva, E. H. (2016) Becoming "another brick in the wall": A thematic analysis of Central and Eastern European immigrants' experiences of psychological distress and help-seeking. DCounsPsych, University of the West of England. Available from:

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Background: Since 2004, a large number of immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have taken up residence in the UK. This study explored how the experience of immigration impacted on the wellbeing of sixteen participants of Central and Eastern European origin and whether they sought help for psychological distress. Despite the increased knowledge and understanding of help-seeking attitudes towards mental health issues of various minority groups in the UK, the experiences of the Central and Eastern European communities remain understudied. It is this gap, which this current study aimed to fill. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four male and twelve female immigrants from Central and Eastern European countries living in the UK. Interview transcripts were analysed using inductive thematic analysis following the seven steps outlined by Braun and Clarke (2013), within a qualitative paradigm and a critical realist framework. Results: Four overarching themes were identified in the analysis: immigration experience; views and meanings of mental health; help-seeking experience and addressing immigrants’ needs. Participants in the study reported having good mental health and the ability to deal with distress, but highlighted that a lack of English proficiency, low job attainment and experiences of prejudice and discrimination negatively affected their wellbeing. Most participants proposed that the best way to address their needs was to engage with their communities first, rather than to seek help from formal services. Discussion: The results provide a thorough description and facilitate understanding of the participants’ experiences, meanings and needs concerning their wellbeing. Possible practical implications for working therapeutically with this minority group are discussed from a social justice perspective. Importantly, this includes the recommendation to apply contextual approaches such as relational cultural theory to current ways of working. Conclusion: For most participants it was clear that settling in the UK was a stressful process influenced by cultural and socioeconomic factors that affected negatively their experience in the host country. Protective factors such as a good social network, English proficiency and equal economic opportunities contributed to positive experiences, whilst prejudice, discrimination and a lack of a culturally sensitive service provision had negative implications on their wellbeing. Addressing immigrants’ needs requires active engagement with these minority communities, which ideally would include acknowledging contextual factors affecting their wellbeing, highlighting discriminatory practices and policies, and building intrinsic forms of resilience.

Item Type: Thesis (DCounsPsych)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Central and Eastern European immigrants, wellbeing, therapy, social justice, mental health, immigration, stigma
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences
Depositing User: E. Chtereva
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2016 08:43
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2016 17:06


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