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How would you define your culture’s impact on you? Would you talk about the impact of its diverse foods? Its assorted clothing? Or maybe the distinct music? Though all are true when thinking about culture, we never seem to think about its impact on our mental wellbeing.

We know that every culture has its own set of values and beliefs. However, what isn’t as well known is its ability to influence the perception of ideas and behaviors. As a result of familial pressures to be successful in academics and professional careers, researchers found that kids feel tremendous pressure that discourages them from finding help. Specifically, Asian and Hispanic populations have the lowest expectancy to visit a psychologist for mental illness, with only 59% on average compared to white adults at 80% as a result of this heavy pressure. 

But why do they feel discouraged? Because they are afraid of seeming “weak” or being a “disappointment” to their families. 

But where did this ideology come from? Many households of Americans of cultural backgrounds believe that their kids should stay focused on their task at hand, thus avoiding and ignoring any symptoms of mental illness. In the perspective of the household, if the kid focuses on their symptoms, it takes away their ability to care for their family which is a big taboo in these cultures. This ability to take care of their family is believed to be the ultimate sense of purpose and identity, which is why many from cultural backgrounds do not seek medical attention in an attempt to please their families.

At one point, I too was one of the pressured individuals who felt the burden of my cultural family’s idea of “perfect” and “ideal child. Whether that meant getting the perfect test schools, wearing “better” clothes, or being the best athlete, I was pushed to be the “best” version of myself. Being the best definitely made my family happy, but it didn’t make me happy. And in the race to be the best, I lost parts of myself along the way. My entire world revolved around my grades and beating my competition, which hurt my mental health when something went wrong. 

This pressure drove me to my breaking point, which is why there really aren’t any long-term benefits to being the “best.” Instead, simply being happy with WHO you are and striving to be the best of who you WANT to be should be your ultimate goal. But the people like me, who are burdened with this pressure from their cultural families, often disregard this suggestion because of their fear of damaging their reputation. However, there is no shame in seeking help for your mental health

Research shows that there are two main ways that Americans with heavy culture attain help for their medical conditions. Individuals could contact close family members, friends or even members of their religious congregations to confide in their problems. Because of this familiarity with people the individual knows, it would be easy to explain the issue without hesitation! Another way is for the individual to contact a mental health professional. Their abundance in professional knowledge could help you find the root cause of your issue and diagnose it quickly! There is absolutely no shame in seeking help. In fact, this is the first step in building a healthier version of yourself, which would benefit you and thus also benefit everyone surrounding you!

Remember, it is important to take care of yourself, regardless of culture or stigma. This would only benefit you, as you are taking the right step in the direction of happiness!


Comments

1
  • Guadalupe

    TW: emotional abuse, lgbtqia discrimination, sexual assault mentions

    I thought this post was particularly relevant and insightful, however I wanted to say that sometimes finding good therapists can also be difficult. BiPOC living in predominantly white areas can be victims of emotional abuse by bad white therapists. I know I was emotionally abused by a white therapist from the age of 12-16. I also was sexually assaulted at 16 and 22 by a white teacher and manager, respectively. While on the surface these experiences may not seem to have had anything to do with race, I believe that in many cases assault does happen to indigenous nonbinary folx (such as myself) at higher rates than the general population. While not conclusive, the fact that assault happens to nonbinary folks frequently points to a correlation between the colonial mindset and white fragility and committing sexual violence. I feel very strongly about this issue. Thank you for reading.

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