Opinion: Don’t disregard mental health

Amongst our universities, workplaces and cities there are usually advertisements providing help and life-line phone numbers for those suffering from mental illness. People — many of whom are public figures — are being more vocal about the matter and how important it is to create a support system when you feel distressed. 

Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, schizophrenia, and bipolar affective disorder are being taken more seriously amongst society, as we are learning to have a more open minds towards each other despite differences. 

According to an article by an PSYCOM one of the top apps for people struggling with mental health is called “What’s Up.” It is an app that “uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy methods to help you cope with Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and more.” 

Another app is “Talkspace Online Therapy,” where for $65 a week, users are able to message a trained professional for as long as they want. Dr. Sal Raichbach, PsyD, LCSW, described the benefit of these apps. “The apps also allow for privacy and confidentiality and can be a safe space for individuals who may be too ashamed to admit their mental health issues in person or who may feel that they will be negatively labeled or stigmatized by others,” Raichbach said. 

This is what many individuals from different cultures feel now with their mental illness, that they are to be judged or dismissed. 

“…Culture affects the way in which people describe their symptoms, such as whether they choose to describe emotional or physical symptoms. Essentially, it dictates whether people selectively present symptoms in a ‘culturally appropriate’ way that won’t reflect badly on them,” said Sofia Andrade in her article “Cultural Influences on Mental Health” on The Public Health Advocate.

Each culture within different regions reacts towards the variety of mental illnesses. “…Studies have shown that Asian patients tend to report somatic symptoms first and then later describe emotional afflictions when further questioned or asked more specifically,” said Adrade. 

Unfortunately, some people from some of these cultures avoid addressing their mental illnesses  to professionals, family and friends, as they are not aware they suffer from it due tosociety around them disregarding it, or making it seem insignificant. 

“As a result of stigma, people may feel a sense of isolation within their cultural group,” said Lauren Mizock on Psychology Today. This is true, as people may feel unheard within their own community and don’t feel as if others would understand what they are struggling with. When those within a  cultural group see others not visibly show their emotions, it pulls them back from sharing their own. “Some research has found that cultural and ethnic identity pride can buffer against the mental health effects of racism and prejudice,” said Mizock. 

Cultural isolation is something that should be put to an end, as more people are facing critical consequences for not expressing their disability to professionals, such as outbursts towards others and their mental illness becoming more severe in status by time. 

University clubs, support groups, counseling centers within universities, help-lines, even just friends or people to reach out to those who can help find resources are great way people who feel this way to connect to. 

Cultural pride in this sense has become an issue in terms of addressing depression and many disorders, as the society cares more about the financial and popularity well-being of an individual rather than their mental health. 

Some even reject the idea of seeking help, as the cultural community looks down on the very action. 

It is crucial that these variations of mental illnesses receive treatment and that treatment is accessible for all. The mental health apps area great alternative for therapy for others who are unable to receive it. Therapy animals are also perfect, and have unlimited options, from dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, etc. 

Mental illness is very important, and those suffering from it deserve acknowledgment in all cultural communities. The best way to spread this is through awareness and creating a space for people to express their emotions and well-being in a safe environment.