I am a community health researcher, an artist, and a graduate student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, ON, Canada. I am interested in the transformative nature of arts-informed Narrative Inquiry as a means of enabling people to co-construct knowledge, reconstruct meaning, and deepen their understanding of personal identity and professional practice. Specifically, my research interests include experiences and conceptualizations of mental illness; experiences of help-seeking and healthcare utilization for mental health issues; and the validation of Chinese Canadian, immigrant, older adult, youth, and queer identities within experiences of mental illness and mental health care.

Research Abstract

Chinese immigrants tend to underutilize mental health services compared to mainstream Canadians. While previous studies indicate that cultural and linguistic barriers may discourage Chinese immigrants from accessing mental health services, there is a paucity of qualitative research in the mental health literature that explores the experiences of older Chinese Canadian immigrants with depression and mental health services. In my Master’s thesis research, I sought to explore how older Chinese immigrants (55+ years of age) experienced depression, and what their stories of experience revealed about the sources of mental health support that they used. Using arts informed narrative inquiry methods developed by Schwind et al. (2014) (i.e., life line, creative writing, metaphor, collage) and Lindsay and Schwind (2016) I conducted a series of five research sessions with a co-participant from the Chinese Canadian community in the Greater Toronto Area. Each of these sessions included a semi-structured narrative interview. Narrative threads regarding workplace related stress, disability and help-seeking, and the importance of support from a strong interprofessional health care team emerged from our data. This study provides insights into how the sudden onset of age-related life changes, such as disability and retirement, may contribute to older Chinese immigrant’s experiences of depression. I also discuss the value of a holistic and culturally safe approach to the caring for older Chinese immigrants with depression.

An Arts-Informed Narrative Inquiry into the experiences of an older Chinese Canadian immigrant with depression

In this video I briefly outline how I use Arts-Informed Narrative Inquiry in my study. I further elaborate on the potential significance of this work to individuals, families, and people working in the field of mental healthcare.


Conference presentations

E. Suen. (2015). Starting with stories: accessing myself, the Chinese Canadian community, and co-participants while conducting an arts informed narrative inquiry into experiences of depression. Paper presentation at the Qualitatives 2015 Conference in London, Ontario. Presented on June 24th, 2015.

E. Suen. (2015). Challenges of the emic/etic in arts-informed narrative inquiry: negotiating representations of experiences with depression. Paper presentation at the Eleventh International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry in Urbana-Champaigne, Illinois. Presented on May 23rd, 2015.

E. Suen. (2015). Drawing upon reflexivity: How art making and the narrative reflective process have shaped my understanding of depression within the context of my research. PowerPoint presented at the Graduate Student Research Conference 2015 at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. April, 28th, 2015.

E. Suen. (2014). Perceptions of older Chinese Canadian immigrants towards accessing mental health supports and service: A narrative inquiry. PowerPoint presented at the Graduate Student Research Conference 2014 at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. April, 30th. 2014.