Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Maritt Kirst

Advisor Role



Research in Canada and the United States has found that South Asians routinely underutilize mental health services, however research on the barriers experienced by South Asians is limited, especially research regarding the experiences of South Asian youth (Inman et al., 2014; Islam et al., 2017; Karasz et al., 2016). Through a series of semi-structured interviews (N=20) with South Asian youth between the ages 16 to 27 in the Greater Toronto Area, the present study explores South Asian youths’ experiences accessing mental health services and the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and service use. Thematic analysis of interview data reveal that South Asian participants experience several barriers preventing effective mental health support. In particular, issues relating to the lack of diversity among service providers and difficulties building and maintaining rapport with service providers were described. Further, participants experienced mental health stigma from family members, the South Asian community, and health professionals which posed additional barriers to accessing services. These issues are further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as participants reported a worsening of mental health, increased substance use, and additional barriers associated with accessing remote mental health services. Results demonstrate a gap in current mental health services and shed light on individual and programmatic changes that can be implemented to better serve this population.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Friday, August 30, 2024