Culture and its effect on one’s mental health

Culture and its effect on one’s mental health

Mental health refers to the state of an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. When someone develops some or the other form of mental disorder which affects the way he or she thinks, acts or feels it usually indicates poor mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental illnesses affect an individual’s ability to relate to others and function effectively on a daily basis.

Mental illnesses can affect anyone no matter what caste, economic strata or creed they belong to. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), states that approximately one in five adults in the U.S. or 18.5 percent of the adult population experiences mental illness in a given year.

Symptoms and common triggers

A number of symptoms signify the development of a mental illness. These include feeling unreasonably sad, clouded thinking, excessive stress, unjustified fear, mood swings, withdrawal from friends, inability to cope with daily problems, substance abuse, etc. Though these signs can differ depending on the mental health disorder and the circumstances, they are known to affect thought processes and behavior.

Although there is no specific cause responsible for triggering the development of any form of mental illness, the condition can be caused due to a mix of several factors that include the following:

  • Genetics: A family history of mental illness is one of the major factors leading to the development of mental health issues in individuals. Genescan make one more susceptible to mental illnesses
  • Experiences in life: Certain experiences in life, such as constant stressors, inflammatory conditions, traumas, substance abuse and other such incidents, can lead to a mental illness.
  • Exposure in womb: Exposure to alcohol, toxins or drugs, while in the womb, is generally linked with the occurrence of mental illnesses.
  • Brain chemistry: Altered brain chemistry or impairment of naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters can also be one of the major factors behind the development of any form of mental illness.

 Cultural differences affect mental illness treatment

People are governed by the culture and societal norms of their families and the place where they live or, more specifically, the community they live in. These often dictate the way an individual behaves in society and shapes their belief system. At times, certain beliefs acquired by an individual can be so rigid and ingrained that they can prevent them from taking the right action such as seeking treatment for mental illnesses which are often a taboo in many cultures and societies. Therefore, often, it becomes crucial to understand how culture influences the way a person experiences or talks about mental illness. This can be an important factor in providing correct diagnosis and proper treatment.

Each society or culture has its own interpretation of mental illness and in most cases people can ostracize the person experiencing it. Thus, a therapist who understands how a patient with mental illness talks about their problem or gets their fears or hesitations can win their trust. That is, either someone who has the same cultural background or is familiar with it and trained to address it.

The different ways in which culture can affect how mental illnesses are perceived are:

  • It affects the way and the type of symptoms an individual exhibits.
  • It affects the extent to which an individual shares about his/her mental illness.
  • Mental illness is understood differently in different cultures.
  • Culture also determines how one copes with such problems and affects the social support the person receives for his/her condition.
  • It defines the stigmas associated with mental illnesses.

 Treating mental illnesses

It is true that mental illnesses are a leading cause of disability worldwide. An individual with a mental illness is likely to face a number of complications, such as an inability to enjoy life or activities, an increase in family conflicts, relationships difficulties, social isolation, legal and financial problems, poverty, etc.

Therefore, it is important for a person to take care of one’s mental health so that they can live life to the fullest, realize their potential, cope with the various life stresses, work efficiently and also make meaningful contributions to their communities.

To recover completely from a mental illness, it is important for a person to break the stereotypes and seek help immediately. If you or someone you know is dealing with any form of mental illness, Sovereign Health can help you connect with the best Los Angeles mental health services.

Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our representatives to get complete information about mental health facilities in Los Angeles and other parts of the U.S.

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