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Culture plays a significant role in developing mental health issues.


CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness, murder, and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.




Have you ever heard of a person saying that a person has intercultural competencies?! Intercultural competence means that one knows and can behave the same way the people of one culture do, i.e in most countries where there are a lot of Muslims, one should not greet a woman by touching their hand or face, or in Western countries is a normal thing to not want to live with your parents when they are elderly phase.



Culture: Ethnocentric or Ethnorelativist?


This paraphrase was to prepare for what you are going to read below. Culture has a significant role in developing mental health, and we have only realised it in the post-modern era. The culture of one country is relative to another culture, however, sometimes there are limits where people are extremely ethnocentric and may cause the development of racism, prejudice, and discrimination against another person.


Milton Bennett developed what is called the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, which describes the stages of the understanding a person has about cross-cultural differences. Therefore, when a person has an ethnorelativistic approach, it means that person can understand and is in a safe zone of not developing issues in society. On the other hand. when a person does not have this approach means that person considers his ethnic group, his culture, and his traditions to be above the other cultures.



Culture shock affects Mental Health.


With that being mentioned, culture and its people do tend to have an impact on developing mental issues which will be explained in more detail in this paragraph. Being taught certain things and behaviors leads to a lengthy adjustment to other countries, thus, developing a sense of anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and overthinking. Moreover, these issues then become part of the personality trait of people, and sometimes people cannot tell the difference between the need for therapy or help in general and the characteristics of their personality.


Let me illustrate it with an example: I moved to the United Kingdom three years ago. I come from a culture where you have to respect the elderly, we have to greet them first then start a conversation of any kind, and even know what place we 'deserve'. After moving to the UK, I and many like me experienced Culture Shock. But what is Culture Shock? Kalervo Oberg came up with this term to describe a set of emotions about moving, adjusting, and losing all similar symbols, or known environments. So, I was in a new environment, and with all the things I had learned I was no longer in that comfortable environment.


Also, our parents who are closer to the culture rather than our generation, make situations and growing up more difficult being raised in another country. Because they were taught in e certain way, they try to do the same things to their children. This is how racism is a learned behaviour rather than being born with it, or homophobia or any LGBTQ+ community. It is generally accepted that children behave like their parents and all the people make behaviours and traditions define what culture is.



Culture implies how to behave and live.




How many women and men have suffered from this tradition, the number is countless. The way of living life with someone you do not love predicts different mental health issues that some might even be invisible. Anger issues, fear, even turning to a person who is not you. Again, culture has many and many impacts on people's lives.


But one question raises, is culture not important or powerless if we people stop 'practicing' it? Yes, you are right about raising this question. However, people from different countries have different cultural characteristics, i.e Western countries behave normally toward the unknown and ambiguity, whilst Eastern countries have a high level of uncertainty avoidance, meaning that these cultures are more comfortable with what they know rather than daring to challenge these characteristics.


Culture let us be!


In the end, culture plays a significant role in developing mental health issues, such as bringing back childhood traumas and/or implying a set of rules that should not be broken in the name of honour, ancestry, and dignity. Culture shock then affects mental health and raises the number of people who need help and more importantly, are not enjoying the moment as they should be. Although, in the modern era people now are being more knowledgeable and are making changes in their behaviours seeking help, and getting therapy sessions.

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