The World Health Organization estimates that one in every four people experience a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. This equates to about 450 million people – placing mental illness as one of the leading factors of debilitation worldwide. With so many people experiencing this, questions of healthcare come to the forefront. How can we provide the best possible care to these individuals? Due to varying cultural perceptions on health, this answer may change.

A 2015 study titled “Cultural Diversity and Mental Health” highlighted the importance of cultural understanding regarding mental health specifically so that healthcare communities can discover newer and better practices that correlate well with cultural perceptions and attitudes. Cultures can tell us a lot about how people experience stigma, how they feel compelled (or not) to seek treatment, how they view their mental illness, and how they receive support from treatment providers and close friends and family members. Unite for Sight, a non-profit organization that focuses on global health, discusses a couple cultural groups within the United States and their perceptions on mental health as found by several research studies:

European Americans – more open towards this issue, this group frequently seeks care for mental illness and believes psychiatric medications are “central and necessary” to treatment. This group is more apt to believe that psychological illnesses are due to biomedical factors (purely on biology) rather than considering psychological, environmental, and social influences.

Asian Americans – cultures often emphasize conformity to norms, emotional self-control, and family recognition through their achievements. This culture often places stigma on mental illness, causing many to not seek treatment as it is considered a source of shame.

African Americans – this cultural group is more likely to emphasize non-biomedical beliefs, and often reports frustration with medical professional’s focus on medication. They are not as likely to seek treatment, and previous studies have hinted that stigma, religious beliefs, distrust of the medical profession and communication barriers may have caused this.

Latinos – these cultures believe that clinical diagnosis may be severely socially damaging, often referring to their disorder as nervios, or anxiety/nervousness. They are also less likely to seek treatment, and also not follow biomedical beliefs.

While these are just a few cultural groups in the United States, many other cultural groups view mental illness differently. The more we can learn about these different beliefs and perceptions, the better we can accommodate to each one as to help increase the number of people who seek help and maintain treatment.

Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.

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