Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis explores the perceptions of mental health, mental health problems, depression, and the coping and help-seeking behaviour of Greeks and Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto. The study was undertaken in collaboration with a community mental health agency located in the Toronto community council area of East York. The information from this study will be used to help the agency, "Alternatives," develop a strategy for reaching more members of diverse ethnic communities. In this study data were collected through interviews with Greek and Tamil service-providers and focus groups with lay community members using a qualitative, culturally sensitive, and participatory action research approach. For Greeks mental health is perceived as the ability to cope with the problems of everyday life. For Tamils mental health is part of one‘s approach to life, which includes the ability to cope with life and a good family life. For both ethnic groups, mental health problems are viewed as a disturbance in the mind and behaviour and as a disruption in one‘s life roles. Mental health problems are defined as visibly abnormal behaviour. Greeks perceive depression as unhappiness, while Tamils view it as a change in the mind or a health problem. In both groups depression is also believed to affect one‘s life roles. Greeks and Tamils attribute mental health problems to environmental, biological, and supernatural factors. Greeks attribute depression to environmental and individual factors, while Tamils attribute depression to environmental and biological factors. In coping with mental health problems and depression, Greeks and Tamils seek help from family members and medical professionals. They also use spiritual/religious approaches. In both ethnic groups, there is a stigma attached to mental health problems which affects the process of seeking outside help. In this study, I suggest a model of service that "Alternatives" can use to reach members of the diverse multicultural community.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season