Everyone is at risk of developing mental illnesses regardless of their status or culture. Culture is a contributing factor to the definition of pathology and mental illnesses in various ways such as how mental illnesses are viewed, perceived and treated. Cultural factors are a contributing factor to development of mental illnesses since they involve a complex interaction among social, biological and cultural factors. Culture influences mental illness by how patients present the symptoms they have to clinicians (Xerfan, 2014). There exist differences in the presentation of symptoms across different cultures. Culture also varies in terms of the meaning imparted to mental illnesses and how they make sense of an individual’s experience of the illness. There are also some cultural differences in terms of what patients expect from mental health treatment which can impact treatment.
There are cultures whereby, individuals are expected to suppress their emotions as a strategy to be accepted in the society (Xerfan, 2014). Such individuals end up not seeking treatment in case of mental health illnesses and end up suppressing their emotions in order for them to live amongst others. There is need for mental health patients to be empowered on the treatment process in order for them to feel comfortable with the treatment they receive. There also exist some form of stereotyping and bias among individuals from some cultural backgrounds (Xerfan, 2014). There are many cases where patients are misdiagnosed simply because of their ethnicity or race due to the stereotypes that exist. Medical practitioners end up reflecting this discriminatory practices and formed attitudes to the society. This ends up preventing people from seeking medical care because they are afraid of being subjected to the stereotypes. Therapists require adequate training on how to deal with patients from different cultures. This helps in correct diagnosis and treatment of mental health illnesses among patients from diverse cultures.
Xerfan, J. (2014). Elements of culture and mental health: Critical questions for clinicians. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 1-2.