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.