How discourses of sharam (shame) and mental health influence the help-seeking behaviours of British born girls of South Asian heritage

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  • Birmingham Educational Psychology Service


The cultural construct ‘shame’ (sharam) is cited as an oppressive force that controls and perpetuates patriarchal structures within particular cultures. ‘Shame’ and the related construct ‘honour’ (izzat) are believed to be key instruments for the oppression of women. Research has suggested that shame prevents women from South Asian communities from help-seeking in relation to mental health difficulties. There is little research investigating the impact of shame on British born South Asian girls and its relationship to their help-seeking behaviour. This research investigated the discourses of South Asian girls in relation to the cultural construct ‘shame’, mental health, and the influence that these have on their help-seeking behaviour. The analysis showed that discourses are complex and contradictory. Thus, shame is constructed by the girls as regulatory, sexist and oppressive and at the same time as helpful and protective. Implications for educational practice and the work of educational psychologists are discussed.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: ©, Association of Educational Psychologists.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Psychology in Practice
Early online date18 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2021


  • educational psychology, British born South Asian girls, shame, honour, mental health

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