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MENTAL HEALTH - IN CULTURES THAT RARELY ACKNOWLEDGES IT

As someone born from refugee parents, I can say I have so much to be thankful for. My parents, grandparents, and many more within the family have faced it all back in Cambodia in the late 1980s; war, poverty, threat, sadness, lack of healthy lifestyles, and loss of loved ones. And here I am, in graduate school, living with a roof over my head and sleeping in a cozy bed every night. I'm glad my parents are proud of what I achieved.

But there's one thing I don't talk about with them. I see a therapist.

In many cultures, mental health is seen as a controversial or taboo subject, especially within minority communities. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental health in many minority populations are stigmatized, defies against cultural norms, and treatment is often seen is useless or ineffective. Unfortunately, my friends and I find that to be true based on experience, and there are quite a handful of youths going through the same.

It is common that many adults deny mental health problems, for they simply do not believe in it. Therefore, those ideals are instilled upon their children. Meanwhile, the youth growing in America with cultural norms placed upon them by their parents can certainly give leeway to mental health problems.

Imagine having depression, but your parents do not believe in it. Imagine having OCD, but your parents tell you to get over it. Imagine struggling with ADHD, but your parents tell you to just focus for one. Imagine dealing with anxiety, but your parents tell you "your too old to be scared."
And yet, these are our parents. How can we defy them? They suffered through so much back in their homelands, therefore, how would our reasoning for mental health beat our parent's reason when they've "been through it all?" Moreover, it seems that the excuse of our parents "doing so much for us" will always get thrown in our face when we try to defend ourselves.

For any of you out there dealing with this issue, I would like to say that there is a safe spot for you. Whether it be a therapist, best friends, close cousins, or online forums, there is a large community out there wanting to help and/or sharing their experiences with you! You can start anywhere, by acknowledging anything about yourself and then going out to speak, whether it be counseling or finding communities on Google. You are not alone.

Moreover, your family will always love you. Life is beautiful and we have so much to be thankful for.

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Comment(s)

You are very much correct. Family support is very critical and powerful therapy for mental illness. 

Mental illness leads to catastrophic consequences to the individuals, families, communities and at large, to the entire country. Homelessness, comorbidities, drug addition, poverty and systematic discrimination are common consequences of mental illness.

15-Jun-2019

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This is a very good post. 
Question is, 

How to improve attitudes toward mental illness and the mentally ill?
How to improve services for people with mental illness?
How to work for the prevention of mental illnesses and the promotion of mental health?

15-Jun-2019

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Thank you Kevin for your post and sharing your experience. Overall, mental health has evolved over the last decades. 
In many cultures, mental health issues are considered demonic possession or religious punishment. Even in early dates of medical practice, depression was considered physiological and patients were told to "get over with it". 

In addition to mental health issues in relation to perception, policies towards it are also skewed. Mental health institutions are poorly funded, stigmatized. 

In addition, mental health stigma in developing countries are extremely and unfortunately high.

15-Jun-2019

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Thank you very much for sharing your story. As an immigrant I couldn't agree more with you about this topic. Our family members coming from the worse of the worse and being mentally stable after struggling so much in their home land can see mental health with a different lens. Of course we agree that they are most likely the strongest people we know, but it's also our mission to teach them and have them understand that mental health come in different shapes, that not everyone is able to deal with situations and problems the same way, and that it's i the best of interest for everyone for us to be emotionally healthy . I believe that you are an incredible human being for sharing your story and encouraging others to seek for help if they feel that there may be something going on with their emotion. As you say, it is always good to know ourselves better so we can give the best of us to the rest of the world.  Please continue spreading the word, it takes one person to start making changes.

14-Jun-2019

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