How Cultural Influences Affect Mental Health


Mental health issues are real, and people from all walks of life are suffering from it. Unlike in the past, this issue is now being taken seriously, and there are now laws that protect people disorder. Therapists are also around to assist those who need mental health support. We all thought that mental health problems are based on an individual, but other factors affect a person’s mental health like genetics, their psychology, and the society that they are in at the moment. It becomes more complicated because society dramatically affects mental health, and people are ignoring it up to now.

Culture has played a significant role too. Different cultures have different versions of their symptoms, and also they are conscious of whether these symptoms would poorly reflect them. These people often tend to keep quiet and therefore, not be able to get the right help and suffer from more serious mental health problems.

Each culture has its own opinion about mental health. Some take them seriously and do everything they can to help prevent and cure mental illness while some cultures say that mental illness is just made up and won’t take it seriously.

With this kind of cultural influence, people cope with their mental illness differently. Some don’t believe in treatments and going to a therapist for help. Asian groups tend to ignore their negative emotions and keep to themselves. African-Americans deal with their feelings personally, unlike Whites that see a therapist and undergo treatments.

Cultural influences also determine how people suffering from mental health issues receive support from their family and friends. Ignoring the fact that a person has mental illness can negatively impact their quality of life.

What might seem polite in one cultural setting can be perceived as aloof in another and vice versa. — Fabiana Franco, PhD

Minority groups are also affected by cultural influences. Racial and ethnic minorities tend to ignore their negative emotions or delay seeking treatment, unlike other cultures. This finding was linked to the mistrust of different cultures due to discrimination that happened in the past and the ones that are still happening today.


Here are other cultural factors that can affect a person getting the right help and treatment for their mental illness:

  • Stigma – there is a current stigma that people should not be depressed and to ‘get over it’ in an instant. This is because there is a lack of education in cultures about the effects of mental health and how it can seriously affect a person’s life. Even just having to wake up and get ready can be a challenge to a person suffering from depression, and people tend to think that person is just lazy.
  • Lack of explanation – we have watched a lot of movies about possessions and exorcisms and the people who are ‘possessed’ dies. Some cultures think this way and instead of going to a proper doctor, they think that supernatural forces are doing this, but there is a scientific explanation at the back of it.

Although studies of children have shown that the ability a person to appreciate another person’s perspective is universal, not all societies encourage their members to develop the skill as they grow up. — Rick Nauert PhD

  • A different perspective from different cultures – some cultures tend to look the other way and not accept their people who have mental health issues. They are not ignorant. They don’t want to put effort into understanding what mental health is all about. Other cultures have support groups to help each other fight the battle against mental illness. They are more open – mined and are not embarrassed to voice out and share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Pride – every culture takes pride from their diversity, their tradition, and their history. This is why sometimes they cannot accept the weak ones. So in return, people who suffer from mental health issues ignore and try to be active even without the proper treatments. In the long run, this can lead to more severe illnesses and can also lead to suicides.

Eliminating The Stigma

Today, schools and other organizations have been putting up events and seminars that can be a safe place for people, whatever culture, race or ethnicity, to talk about their emotions and to share their thoughts and feelings.

These establishments also offer counseling so that anybody can be free to see a therapist to help them get checked and help them get appropriately treated. With everything going on around the world, it is better to have a place where you can let out all those negative emotions and talk to someone without being discriminated.

Each of us are exposed to different sets of experiences and each of our natures, then, is somewhat distinct. This is why we are different from each other—because we, as a living neural network, have been shaped by different experiences. — Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D.

Do not be embarrassed with the way you feel and how you deal with your emotions. You are only human, and you can feel sad, lonely, and even weak. If you need to seek help from a professional, do not get scared and do not think that society won’t accept you.

Remember that you are not alone in this journey. Others suffer like you, and you can find support with them. Your family and friends will also support you no matter what so be confident and fight this illness so you can live a better life.

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