New study to examine the effect of conforming to masculine norms on men.
One of Vancouver’s largest demographics may be facing a significant risk to their health and slipping through the cracks of the health care system. Dr. Hiram Mok, a Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute scientist, is concerned that Asian men may be at increased risk for depression as a result of the masculine norms they follow.
“Men have historically been under-diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), compared to women at a rate of one half; yet, suicide rates are four times higher among men,” says Dr. Mok, clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia (UBC). “We also know that people of Asian origin are less likely to discuss their mental health problems and more likely to underutilize professional care.”
These two factors combined indicate that Asian men are at an increased risk of depression, yet no studies exist to indicate whether this is the case. The lack of available research is of great concern to Dr. Mok and his team who hypothesize that the more Asian men conform to masculine norms, the more likely they will exhibit symptoms characterizing male depression, and the less likely they will disclose mental health issues to their care teams.
“Considering the large Asian male population in Metro Vancouver, along with the fact that men have typically been inadequately screened and treated for depression, and have higher rates of self-harm, there is an urgent need to better understand depression among Asian men as a way to engage with them to deliver clinical services in a culturally sensitive and effective manner.”
Dr. Mok’s new study will explore whether the cultural pressures such as family structure, stigma and traditional beliefs about mental health, affect the help-seeking behavior in Asian men, putting them at an increased risk of depression. Funded by the Movember Foundation’s Men’s Depression and Suicide Network Fund with additional funds provided by the UBC School of Nursing and UBC Faculty of Applied Science, the pilot study will recruit 100 Asian male patients, ages 18-65, from Vancouver General Hospital’s Cross-Cultural Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic and a family practice group clinic located in the greater Vancouver area that predominantly serves Asian communities.
To learn more about the study, please contact Flora Lung or Sze Kit Ying at VGH Cross Cultural Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic at 604.875.4115