Cultural differences can greatly impact the way individuals perceive, react to, and cope with mental health challenges. But, with the correct education and destigmatisation, mental health professionals can provide culturally sensitive and effective support for individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds from all walk of life.
Stigma and stereotyping
This is something I've faced throughout my life. Having my mental health being undermined as 'study stress' or 'change in environment stress'. Yet it always feels the same no matter where I am or what I'm doing. So is it mental health or am I just normal? I mean everyone is stressed especially at my age of 20 doing university exams and having that ticking time clock constantly telling me to pick a career. So what makes me different? Does my heritage make a massive impact on this? Personally, I believe so as having Indian heritage makes me a part of the Model Minority as stereotypes suggest that I should be strong, naturally intelligent and a high achiever. This could result in the mental health of those in the model minority could be undermined as overworking stress to present a certain image rather than the combination of both pressure and biological issues.
I may have conformed to that stereotype growing up being in the top sets and doing well in my academics. but then, I started to face the issue of intersectionality as being a cis woman, my male teachers didn't have as much confidence in my achievements and severely knocked my confidence. Do I believe this impacted my future mindset in terms of my academic achievements? I am very confident that it did as the pressure of being a model minority then started to compete with the mindset that is the system against me because I am a woman. Although being a woman does not make me a part of a minority but a woman in the business world does which is evident in my classes where there may be around 20 males but only 6 females including myself. An example where my mental health was challenged in this situation would be during an examined presentation in my first year of university where I was the only female in a group of 6 males. Instantly I was too anxious to make any input as my instincts were that they knew better. Which I fully understood was wrong to assume but as a minority in that group I was not willing to make any disagreements just in case I'm wrong and they start to see me as weak. This may also be more complicated for those who face more discrimination and identify with other identities such as their sexuality and disabilities.
The 'cis white male'
Despite minorities having severe issues within the health industry, business industry etc the cis white male can also have issues. Moving past the fact that historically it was these people who set this flawed system up, can it be seen as unfair to blame the current generation for the errors made by the previous generation? Yes and no would be the answer to this in my opinion for a myriad of reasons. Yes because they still gain many benefits from this system such as top roles in businesses and the stereotype that they are the hardest workers, most loyal and all-rounder males. No, because they also face pressure from these stereotypes that they have to be great achievers no matter what issues they face because the system is for them despite their mental health.
Being in a minority does impact mental health but I believe it is not the sole contributor as stereotypes, systematic racism and intersectionality can lead to demotivation, anxiety and more from people there are also other factors of their lifestyle which can make a significant impact on their mental health such as their upbringing, work stress and other biological factors. But, understanding how historical trauma, systemic racism and access to care impact minorities can have a significant impact on how mental health issues are destigmatised, approached in unique ways and how they are culturally sensitively treated. Differences can also be made in terms of education, coping strategies and encouragement towards help-seeking behaviour.