Cultural Differences & Mental Health
An aspect of identity that is often overlooked is culture. Schools need to be focused and remain vigilant about unique cultural distinctions relating to students. Our culture, beliefs, sexual identity, values, religion, race, and language all affect how we perceive and experience mental health concerns.
In fact, a number of experiences are altered by culture, including:
- perceptions of illness and death,
- beliefs about causes of disease
- approaches to health
- how illness and pain are experienced and expressed
- where and when people seek help
- the types of treatment people prefer
Relating to mental health, culture affects:
- whether mental health is viewed as a health condition or a personality flaw or a weakness.
- influences what coping mechanisms and supports work for us
- whether someone chooses to recognize and talk about only physical symptoms, only emotional symptoms, or both
At times, culture also impacts who within a family system will be assigned responsibility and authority over the provision of health and mental health services and it might not necessarily be the child’s parent. Often, it is a family’s culture that might prevent them from discussing mental health concerns outside of their home. Challenges can be perceived as “normal” adolescent behavior or given another explanation for differences in behavior.
When mental health is unrecognized at home, it can lead to a decline in a child’s performance at school. Students’ behaviors that become increasingly prevalent include:
- isolation from peers
It is crucial that schools address cultural diversity within their system from a biopic perspective, understanding the specific cultural dynamics of each particular student as opposed to a generic model.
Erika’s Lighthouse is a not-for-profit that is dedicated to ensuring no young person feels alone in their depression. We are dedicated to creating a community of empathy and education. We create upper elementary, middle school, and high school mental health, depression, and suicide awareness programs so educators, families, and teens can create safe spaces to learn about mental health, letting students know they are never alone, and that there is somewhere to turn.
Make an Impact
Erika’s Lighthouse makes family handbooks and classroom education resources easily accessible to anyone who needs them. Our free high-quality resources can be accessed by educators for grades 4-12 and teens or parents who need support in introducing mental health conversations to their homes.