Mental Health Cultural Perspectives
It is common for people from BME Backgrounds to not receive a positive outcome from mental health services, they are also more likely to disengage from conventional mental health treatments.
We as a Multi-cultural Mental Health Resource Service endeavour to support our members in the best way possible. We provide members with a range of social inclusion activities, educational courses, one to one – emotional and practical support and help with accessing other agencies, thus preventing further deterioration or hospitalisation. We promote discussions around mental health issues and the different support services available to members as well as advising those services on how they can improve accessibility and outcomes, providing a more diverse service with a wider understanding of the different cultural needs.
In BME communities there is little understanding of what mental health is, many do not consider mental health as a medical issue and think it has nothing to do with doctors.
In Asian communities there is often a fear of consequences when admitting mental illness such as; shaming their families, not being considered for marriage, superstitious beliefs that they are being punished for something from a past life, perhaps it is the will of god or bad parenting. There is no term for what ‘mental health’ is in Urdu or Punjabi. Loosely it translates to ‘problem with the brain’ which strikes fear in to most. When we are scared of something we do not talk about it.
Although mental health problems are commonly over diagnosed for people whose first language is not English, language barriers when being assessed by doctor’s means that many people are misdiagnosed. Doctors can find it hard to understand a person’s true thoughts and feelings without an experienced interpreter on hand. Mistrust and confidentiality issues also make it difficult for them to talk openly and honestly about their problems, leaving a lot of people to suffer in silence.
Mainstream mental health treatments are often inappropriate to the needs of BME communities and do not identify the stigma they may face.
African Caribbean people have lower rates of common mental health problems but are more likely to be diagnosed with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia frequently due to misdiagnosis. They are also less likely to seek help early on, becoming more isolated and often leading to them accessing services through the courts or police. Some African communities believe that mental health problems are not an illness but a curse, associating mental illness with witchcraft. The link between religious/faith groups and mental health is that many believe they should be seeking help from leaders of their church or mosque and that they may be able to suggest alternative treatments to western approaches which are to them at times somewhat invasive.
Mental Health doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from it is a part of us all, talking and seeking help is the answer.
Here at Mary Seacole House we will continue to provide a non-oppressive environment, developing mental health services for Liverpool’s culturally diverse communities whilst challenging inappropriate practices and treatments.
If you would like to know more about our services please do get in touch.
We welcome any comments below.