Different Cultural Perspectives On Mental Health Disorders

Culture is a group of people’s way of life, encompassing beliefs, arts, heritage, cuisine, and other traditions. Because each culture is different, what is acceptable in one does not necessarily mean the same for the other. This gap is especially evident in highly stigmatized topics. 

As the world adjusts and becomes more open, there are still a few cultural barriers that we need to bring down, particularly when it comes to mental health. There have been countless studies on the impact of culture on an individual’s psychological well-being.

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Western Culture On Mental Illnesses

Statistics show evidence of western countries, such as the United States of America, Canada, Germany, and Australia, having higher numbers of citizens suffering from psychological problems. With this, experts link mental health disorders to a cultural phenomenon, not just a biological or psychological one.

For many years, America has always been on the pedestal. I’m sure a lot of us know about the American dream. It was the ultimate goal. The West was generally a place where dreams are fulfilled, goals are achieved, and life is fantastic. So it sure is surprising to see the data that many people in these western countries are mentally unstable.

However, in reality, life in the West is far from the glamor portrayed in the media. Media and technology are huge culprits for the rampant development of mental illnesses in western countries. Western culture is regarded as the epitome of all cultures, they are pressured to excel, and their media always save “face.” Not everything we see on television or the internet is genuine.

With that, it seems like western people put a high value on happiness more than other cultures. Everyone in the world is closely watching their every step as if there is no room for mistakes, sadness, or fear. This notion is dangerous to people’s mental health, as sometimes they get their feelings dismissed, and they feel unimportant.

Other factors that contribute to the increasing number of mental health sufferers in the West are that western culture is predominantly patriarchal. Women abuse and men refusing to seek psychological treatment are common. Even though the West is advancing in so many ways, they are still far behind battling mental disorders.

On the other hand, the good thing about Western culture is that they are much more open to discussing psychological conditions. And that they have the capacity and resources to seek treatments.

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Eastern Culture On Mental Illnesses

Asia is the largest continent globally and comprises several ethnicities—again, each one sharing diverse cultures. It is, perhaps, the top continent where there is heavy stigmatization on mental health problems—thanks to the variety of religions, beliefs, and traditions in each country.

We have all heard of Asian stereotypes such as having tiger parents, the tantamount pressure to excel in school, and the filial piety. These may be stereotypes, but they are real. To many Asian people out there, they are nightmares. They are contributing factors that affect their psychological well-being.

Unlike in the West, Asian culture is more conservative. Taboo topics such as mental health and gender identity are rarely talked about. These are often shrugged off and regarded as “just a phase.” 

In Asian culture, their beliefs, religion, and customs are often more important than the medical field. Words like depression and anxiety seem to never exist in their vocabulary. Many Asian kids find a hard time reaching out and seeking treatment because of this.

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African Culture On Mental Illness

Africa is another culturally-rich continent. Unfortunately, like Asia, Africans still highly-stigmatize mental health. Studies found that low-income countries are highly vulnerable to developing both physical and psychological problems. However, in African culture, both are often underreported.

The lack of education, resources, and religious beliefs often hinder African people from getting the help they need. Instead, the mentally ill hides in fear and embarrassment. It is found that having a mental health disorder also reduces an individual’s chances of getting married, a tradition which is huge and symbolic in African culture.

Poverty and war continue to exist in African countries, making it even harder for them to talk about the topic and have good mental health care access.

Hispanic Culture On Mental Illness

If you have Hispanic or Latinx friends, you’ll probably say that many of them are always happy and fun to be around. They host the wildest parties and are often very welcoming. But even the happiest people are hiding something.

Most Latino communities live near or migrate to the West. Being a minority and a person of color, they face all types of discrimination at work, at their own homes—just about everywhere.  Generational trauma, lack of access to healthcare, and education are all causative agents to their mental well-being.

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Many Latinos view mental health as a sign of weakness, so most of them do not seek advice from a medical professional. Most fear being called “loco,” which is the Spanish equivalent of crazy. In Hispanic culture, having psychological problems is a great embarrassment to the family and the community.

United As One

We all come from different races, ethnicities, with varying cultures. But we all face similar problems. We come together and raise our voices to eradicate the stigma, especially on mental health, in our culture. Let’s fight for everyone to have equal access to mental health care.