Mental treatment. There are many factors which are/should be

Mental health is a
socially initiated, as well as socially demarcated concept that is present in
all different societies, groups and cultures. There
are many ways in which the nature of mental health is hypothesized which
largely involves looking at the causes of the health problem and finding a balance
as to what can be determined as a healthy or an unhealthy mind which would then
help to determine the right type of treatment. There are many factors which are/should
be implemented when trying to determine the right type of treatment and this
would include looking at the variety of class, political and religious background(s)
as well as the cultural variances from one individual to another. However, this
is not always applied which has ended up widening the gap between the understanding
of mental health in certain communities and the ways in which an impacted
individual can receive help. In this essay, I will be exploring the cultural
implications that prevail when discussing mental health, primarily focusing on
the reaction it garners from the Asian community and why there is such a large
stigma on mental health issues within this particular community which will
include looking at the disparities in discipline between different ethnicities
and the importance of discipline culturally.  

 

Mental health is an issue
that has an impact on people of all genders, race, and ages; every generation has
a different way of viewing the stigma that surrounds the mere term of ‘mental
health’. When looking at mental health and the stigma that is frequently
accompanied with the issue, it is often found that many people of ethnic
minorities choose not to reach out and there are many underlying reasons for
this, but conducted research has time and again proven that the largest cause
for people of colour/ethnic minorities to not reach out largely has to do with
their cultural upbringing and teaching regarding the mind and body. Marcia
Carteret (2012, Dimensions of Culture)
states that “People with mental
health problems in all communities’ face stigma and discrimination. But there
are different challenges and cultural issues in different communities” In many ethnic communities,
there is a lack of understanding about the seriousness of mental health which
usually results in a lot of it being misunderstood for disobedience and
unnecessary fragility. But the discrimination can root from the cultural
standards an individual has been bought up with which differs from ethnicity to
ethnicity. The most important
entity in the Asian community would be the concept of discipline.

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Discipline is defined
by Oxford Dictionaries as “The practice of training people to obey rules or a
code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience”. In many ways,
discipline within the Asian community can add to the stigma surrounding mental
health as a large part of Asian society to surpass in all aspects of life;
Asians as individuals tend to view the mind and body in a holistic therefore it
stands to reason that the idea of having somewhat of a complication in mind
will cause a complication in everyday life. They are therefore taught to
discipline themselves in all aspects of life and can fail to identify or admit
that the pressure of having to excel is placing stress on them mentally. This
can also be due to the way discipline is used in the community; it differs from
the use of (physical) strength as it is a method used to convince the mind and
body that they are being guided as opposed to moulded to fit into societal
standards, as a result making it feel as though it is a natural behaviour for
them to adopt and that anything outside of excelling is to some extent
abnormal.

 

The impact that the
idea of discipline can have on a community as a whole has been present from
past generations and passed on to newer generations both consciously and subconsciously.
Foucault states that “Discipline ‘makes’
individuals; it is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals
both as objects and as instruments of its exercise. It is not a triumphant
power…it is a modest, suspicious power, which functions as a calculated, but
permanent economy.” From this, we can interpret the cause and effect behind
the idea of discipline within the Asian community. There is a stereotype built
around each and every ethnic minority with the stereotypical Asian individual
having to live up to the standards of surpassing in all aspects possible –
throughout the many stages of life, the Asian community in particular discipline
both mind and body in order to be able to meet the standards that are set for
them; what was initially expected of a group of individuals became the norm for
the community and is being implemented and passed down from generation to
generation as behavioural standards thus reinforcing the idea of a permanent
economy. The concept behind it is that the individuals that meet the standards
set for them by either their elders or society make up the ideal economy. The
idea of discipline therefore reflects on some, if not all, characteristics of
general life for the community. According to mental health charity Time to Change

 

Adherence to social norms is the key to achieving and
maintaining respect and standing within the community. These include doing well
academically, being married, having children and being employed. Living outside
of these norms, whether through poor academic achievements or having a mental
problem can be considered abnormal and damage the reputation and standing of
the person with the mental health problem and their immediate family,
reinforcing feelings of shame and the need for secrecy.

 

This statement
highlights a valid reason as to why mental health is an issue in the community.
Somehow, the actions of the individual not only reflect upon themselves but can
also fall on the shoulders of their (immediate) family which can cause difficulties
in both the long run and the short run in the community, giving individuals
more of a reason to not speak up about their problems. This links back to the
idea of discipline and also brings us to the topic of honour. In an Asian
community, discipline would include outshining and outshining would mean a good
name and image hence leading to honour. On the other hand, if someone was
struggling to achieve/fit the mould due to an illness such as anxiety or
depression, it would be see as an act of disobedience from the individual. In
other words, discipline is rewarded but as mental health, which can be seen as
an act of disobedience, is not which is why many people tend to remain quiet on
the subject.

 

In relation to the idea of an act of disobedience, there are other
factors which can widen the gap in the cultural understanding of mental health,
one of these factors being the fact that there is a misconception about the
causes of mental health.