Most of the time when we think about culture we think about things like language, diverse foods, customs, and traditions. We tend to forget that culture also impacts the beliefs of different minority groups as well as their values and how they address mental health, especially here in America.
According to recent research published by The Common Wealth Fund, minorities here in the US are less likely to seek mental health treatment compared to their white counterparts. At the very least, they’ll consider treatment once symptoms become severe.
Let’s talk about the various ways cultural impacts mental health:
Each culture has a different way of looking at mental health. For most, there is a prevalent stigma surrounding mental health. Essentially, mental health issues are considered a weakness.
For example, In Asian and Middle Eastern communities, seeking professional help for mental illness or mental health issues can bring shame or dishonor to the family. The Black community has a long history of experiencing discrimmination and overall mistreatment from medical providers. This tends to make individuals more reluctant to seek help.
As for addressing mental health issues, the members of each of these communities are likely to suppress their feelings. If they do seek support, it’s typically through close family members or their respective religious circles. While seeking support is often the first step in healing, having a cultural stigma attached to mental health issues can keep individuals from getting the higher level of help they need.
Understanding the Symptoms of Mental Illness
Generally speaking, mental health and mental illness are not well understood topics among most ethnic groups. The reasons for this vary, but as mentioned above, many cultures view mental health disorders as a weakness that should be hidden away. Therefore, depending on which cultural group an individual belongs to, how they describe their symptoms and feelings will differ.
For example, it can affect whether someone chooses to recognize their symptoms as something more serious in the first place. Or, it can affect how they choose to talk about those symptoms, emotional and physical, and whether the person they tell is receptive to what that means.
Cultural factors can directly affect how much support an individual receives from their family and community regarding their mental health. Different cultures have different ways of “dealing” with mental health, and if an individual feels they won’t get the support they need, they may keep their mental health issues a secret.
According to the same research mentioned earlier, minorities tend to have less access to regular sources of care. They also tend to have less of a choice in where they receive care. This has a lot to do with not having health insurance or the financial means to pay out of pocket.
It also has a lot to do with not having access to quality care within their communities — as in mental health professionals from the same background who can understand their specific experiences from their unique cultural point of view.
Every culture is different in how they tackle everyday life, and every individual will have a different journey in regards to their mental health. One way to combat these cultural stigmas is by understanding the role in which culture plays in mental health. Another way is to ensure that mental health treatment becomes accessible to all.
That’s why we accept insurance from a wide variety of providers and offer low-cost pricing for those without insurance. Visit our website to learn more about what we treat or contact us to learn more about our new Doral location.