Cultural Influences on Mental Health

 11th Oct 2016

Cultural Influences on Mental Health

A person’s mental health has many influential factors, not least of which is their cultural background.

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It’s important to understand that, like many aspects of life; mental health is not only dependent on your own behaviour and experiences but, instead, can be greatly affected by one’s peers as well.

The actions and mind-sets of those around you can have a profound impact on your mental health and this is true throughout all stages of life.

Childhood

During childhood, people progress through a ‘critical period’ where they are particularly sensitive to changes in the environment. During this time, various fundamental skills are acquired including speaking, hearing and vision.

Even after this stage, children’s personalities and outlooks can be especially malleable to those of the people around them, i.e. their friends and family.

If children and young adults are unable to confide in those around them to discuss their mental health issues, it will be far more challenging to deal with symptoms later on in life.

Consequently, this can make people living with conditions such as anxiety and depression reluctant to seek help as they may view aspects of their health as being ‘taboo’ or undeserving of support.

This is certainly not the case and yet the stigma of mental health is still undeniably rife in what should be a liberal, open and modern society.

Another common issue which can be harmful for people living with mental health illnesses during childhood is bullying.

Certain people are programmed into making life hard for others and those who display signs of anxiety, nervousness or emotion can often be easy targets.

Instances of bullying (and cyber bullying) should be addressed whenever they become apparent, however, it can become especially dangerous for those living with mental health symptoms.

If persistent abuse is not dealt with accordingly, children can be left paranoid about their appearance, personality or other aspects of their life and this can have a massive impact on their general confidence long after.

Adulthood

It is important to consider the impressionability of people during their early years however, once an individual has reached adulthood, there are still many cultural factors which can be detrimental to their wellbeing.

Even in the 21st century world we live in, there is still a prevalent fear about the disclosure of one’s mental health concerns at work - a place where we spend an average of 43.6 hours every week.

Work is known to be a common stressor for many and can even lead to the development of depression in more severe cases.

This issue is naturally intensified in situations where individuals are unable to declare their true feelings with colleagues and managers as they will be left feeling alone and helpless.

Finding people to confide in

One of the most important steps to take when addressing various aspects of your mental health is finding people who you can talk to.

Rightly or wrongly, it can often be hard to discuss highly personal issues with certain people in your life, especially if they are not used to having conversations of this nature.

However, there are always people who are willing to help.

By finding a friend, family member or colleague who is happy to discuss your concerns in confidence, you will be able to better actualise your circumstances.

This will reinforce what you are experiencing is both normal and has happened to others around you too.

Furthermore, the rise of the internet has seen social media, community forums and other online resources, expand the options we have for entering a discussion with relevant people and learning more about mental health.

Recently, the Twitter hashtag #MyDepressionLooksLike allowed users of the social media platform to speak with one another about depression, as well as other mental health conditions and explain how it affected their life.

This is an excellent example of how the internet can be used to your advantage and how conversation in general can be incredibly empowering when addressing concerns about your mental health.

Regardless of your age or background, it is important to evaluate whether any aspects of your life are potentially harming your wellbeing and if these can be changed or removed entirely.

If necessary, making fundamental changes to your occupation, interests and the people you associate with can have positive repercussions on your mental health and happiness in general.

Encompass Dorset provides a range of care services to help improve the lives of people living with learning disabilities and enduring mental health illnesses.

Learn more about our team and the work we do by clicking here.

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