Mental Health impacts everyone regardless of distance. Different cultures, communities and countries all have different ways of dealing with mental health issues. Some cultures have sacred chants, practices and meditations they use to deal with mental health issues, while others may use forms of exercise, guidance from spiritual leaders and medicines. Regardless of location, mental health is something we should all keep in mind.
For this discussion we will highlight 3 countries and how they deal with mental health. Some practices may be quite beneficial, while other practices may be ineffective or harmful.
WHAT MAY PREVENT PEOPLE FROM SEEKING CARE FOR MENTAL HEALTH:
- Some Asian cultures have a concept of “Face”. Within this concept keeping up ones reputation and public image is important. People may fear that seeking mental health care or sharing their mental health concerns with others could make them lose face and bring embarrassment or shame to their family or community.
- There is a belief in witchcraft in some African cultures. Witchcraft practice uses the worship of spirits, certain spiritual ceremonies, and spells to wish pain and misfortune on people. People within these cultural communities who suffer with mental illnesses may be accused of being a witch, or possessed by evil spirits and they may face violence from their family or community.
- Some Latin cultures have the value of “familism”, which means being loyal, offering solidarity, and supporting ones family. Families hold the interest of the family close instead of the interest of the individual. Some individuals suffering with mental health issues might go to family for support before anyone else.
- Some indigenous cultures have a more holistic view of mental health. This holistic view encompasses spiritual, physical, emotional and mental aspects. Those that suffer with mental health issues may seek the help or guidance of a spiritual healer.
One in 20 individuals receive treatment for mental health in India. Research has shown that there are many contributing factors leading to this large gap in health coverage. Poor mental health understanding, stigma, discrimination, lack of trained professionals and low availability all contribute to this gap in healthcare in India. Faith healers and spiritual gurus are preferred for mental health treatment in more rural areas. Some individuals believe that mental health issues may be tied to evil spirits or karma. People practice yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and seek emotional support from family to combat mental health issues.
In China many individuals have negative views about getting mental health treatment. These views come from a lack of understanding about mental health, and how to treat mental health conditions. Mental health care is typically received at psychiatric hospitals, or at psychiatric departments of a general hospital. Many changes have been made to China’s healthcare system in these recent years. There is currently a lack of mental health professionals, roughly 5,000 for a population of 1.4 billion.
Research has shown that 5% accounted for South Africa’s mental health public health budget, 86% of costs were from inpatient care. In a country that has endured the weight of intergenerational traumas, social traumas, gender based violence, AIDs, and Covid-19; having access to quality mental health care is crucial. Many mental health disorders can arise from trauma, violence, and poor health, therefore , more resources for professional and quality mental health treatment must be provided in South Africa.
Across the globe many struggle with receiving quality mental health care treatment, and access to quality mental health treatment is hard to find in some more rural places. By establishing quality healthcare in these locations countries can improve, treat, and prevent mental illnesses. The care that is given needs to be culturally sensitive, non judgmental, non discriminatory care, and in this way there is equity for those that receive treatment. Health care professionals with a global and cultural view will be able to better understand, treat, and assist their patients.