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BACKGROUND: South Asian (SA) Canadians are disproportionately affected by higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders. SA Canadians with depression report significant barriers to accessing mental health care and the highest proportion of unmet mental health needs. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) advocates for culturally and linguistically relevant services for SA Canadians. Culturally adapted cognitive behavior therapy (CaCBT) has shown to be more effective than standard cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Adapting CBT for the growing SA population in Canada will ensure equitable access to effective, culturally-appropriate mental health interventions. METHOD: The study used a qualitative design to elicit stakeholder consultation via in-depth interviews. This study is reported using the criteria included in Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Studies (COREQ). The analysis follows an ethnographic approach and was informed by the principles of emergent design. RESULTS: Five themes were identified from the analysis, (i) Awareness and preparation: factors that impact the individual's understanding of therapy and mental illness. (ii) Access and provision: SA Canadians' perception of barriers, facilitators, and access to treatment. (iii) Assessment and engagement: experiences of receiving helpful treatment. (iv) Adjustments to therapy: modifications and suggestions to standard CBT. (v) Ideology and ambiguity: racism, immigration, discrimination, and other socio-political factors. CONCLUSIONS: Mainstream mental health services need to be culturally appropriate to better serve SA Canadians experiencing depression and anxiety. Services must understand the family dynamics, cultural values and socio-political factors that impact SA Canadians to reduce attrition rates in therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Can J Psychiatry

Publication Date



CBT, South Asian, anxiety, behavioral, culturally adapted CBT, depression, qualitative research