Exploring the Connection Between Asian Culture and Mental Health

Mental health is an essential aspect of an individual’s overall wellbeing. In recent years, mental health has gained more attention, with people speaking more openly about their struggles with mental health issues. However, the topic of mental health is still taboo in some cultures, one of which is Asian culture. Various social, cultural, and traditional factors can impact the way Asians view mental illnesses and help-seeking behaviors. This article explores the connection between Asian culture and mental health.

Mental health in Asian culture

In Asian cultures, mental health is often viewed as a personal matter and not discussed openly with family or friends. Any problem regarding mental health is seen as a sign of weakness and failure. Asians often connect one’s mental health with their family’s reputation and honor, which can put immense pressure on an individual to hide their problems.

In addition, expression of one’s emotions through words is not culturally standard within Asian society. Emotional expression is viewed negatively and is considered a waste of time. Instead, Asians often resort to physical activities such as sports and exercise to release their emotions.

Furthermore, traditional Asian beliefs in the role of shame and ‘face culture’ result in individuals feeling ashamed and unconfident in asking for help when they need it. The highly collectivist society in Asia often prioritizes the needs and desires of the family and society over individual needs, which can lead to a sense of guilt and shame when seeking help for oneself.

Mental health issues prevalent in Asian culture

The pressure of conforming to society’s norms has resulted in several mental health issues among Asians. Below are some of the most prevalent mental health issues in Asian cultures:

Depression

In a society that equates success with happiness, it’s common for individuals who are unable to fulfill expectations to feel inadequate and depressed. Depression in Asian culture is often a ‘silent pain,’ and individuals are shamed into not seeking help, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment.

Anxiety

The Asian culture emphasizes the importance of education, career success, and financial stability, leading to a constant state of stress and high expectations. Anxiety in Asian culture is often dismissed as stress, which is a more socially acceptable term.

Eating Disorder

The ideal body image in Asian culture often emphasizes thinness, leading to disordered eating habits, such as overeating or binging, to achieve the acceptable body shape. Eating disorders are still stigmatized in Asian culture, and individuals may feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek help.

Stigma surrounding Mental Health in Asian Culture

Mental health stigma in Asian culture is a significant barrier to seeking help when needed. Traditional beliefs and societal norms have contributed to this stigma, making it difficult for individuals to get the help they need. Stigma indicates negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes attributed to mental health issues.

The lack of awareness and knowledge of mental illnesses in Asian culture results in many individuals experiencing stigma and discrimination from family, friends, and society. It’s common for people to believe that mental health conditions can be cured by willpower, prayer, or traditional remedies. As such, mental illnesses in Asian culture are thought to be a matter of personal weakness, leading to self-stigma, where individuals blame themselves for their mental health conditions.

Breaking the Stigma

The stigma surrounding mental health in Asian culture can only be overcome through education and acceptance. The following recommendations can help break the stigma:

Education

Education plays a significant role in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. Increasing awareness of mental illness and its effects can educate people about the importance of seeking help when needed. In addition, education can help combat stereotypes and negative attitudes associated with mental illnesses.

Encouraging Discussion of Mental Health

Encouraging open discussions about mental health goes a long way in eliminating stigma. Creating a safe space for people to share their experiences and express emotions can help individuals feel less embarrassed and ashamed about their mental health issues.

Access to Resources

Having access to resources such as therapy and support groups can help individuals manage their mental health issues. In addition, providing mental health professionals who are culturally competent and understand the traditional beliefs of Asian culture can increase the likelihood of seeking help.

Conclusion

Mental health stigma in Asian culture is a significant issue, and it impacts the mental health and wellbeing of individuals. The connection between Asian culture and mental health cannot be ignored, and it’s essential to raise awareness and break the stigma. Education, open discussion, and access to resources can all aid in achieving mental health acceptance and support in Asian culture.

FAQs

FAQs: Asian Culture And Mental Health

1. How does Asian culture impact mental health?

Asian culture has a significant impact on mental health as it often emphasizes collectivism, where individuals prioritize the needs of the group over their own. This culture can lead to individuals struggling with mental health to feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek professional help as it is seen as a personal failure which in turn exacerbates their mental health issues. Additionally, existing cultural and language barriers and stigmas may prevent individuals from seeking help, leading to a lack of knowledge of available resources and treatment options.

2. What are some of the most common mental health issues experienced by Asian immigrants?

Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues experienced by Asian immigrants. The reasons for these mental health issues may vary depending on the individual’s experience and cultural background. Factors such as discrimination, isolation, language difficulties, and the stress of adapting to a new culture and a new environment may contribute to these mental health issues.

3. How can we improve mental health services for Asian communities?

Improving mental health services for Asian communities involves increasing awareness of mental health and decreasing the stigma surrounding seeking help. Education for both providers and patients on cultural beliefs and values is essential to ensure that treatment approaches are culturally sensitive and appropriate. Additionally, integrating cultural values, beliefs and practices into mental health services can promote both the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health treatment for Asian communities. It is important to acknowledge the complex interaction between culture and mental health, recognizing that treatment plans need to be tailored to the individual’s cultural background and experience.


References

1. Wong, Y. J., Owen, J., Gabana, N. T., & Brownson, C. (2013). Culture and stigma: Adding moral experience to stigma theory. Social Science & Medicine, 88, 24-31. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.03.043

2. Kim, J., Nam, B., & Hong, H. (2019). The association of acculturation and perceived discrimination with mental health among Asian immigrants in the United States. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 21(3), 519-528. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-018-0788-3

3. Lee, K. F., & Wong, J. Y. (2019). The impact of stigma on mental health among Asian immigrants: A literature review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 21(6), 1392-1402. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-019-00892-8