***Alice this is for you! Thank you for teaching me so much and for being so open and honest about your journey!***
What I believe….. We need to de-stigmatize mental health. We need to be open, honest, and transparent about our experiences. EVERYONE experiences challenges in their mental health. As humans, our emotions wax and wane. We feel joy one minute and pain the next. We build strategies for resilience and reach out when we need a helping hand. THERE IS NO SHAME! Some of the bravest people I know have struggled with serious mental health issues! They are my heroes!
What I have learned?. Not all cultures view mental health with the same lens. There is secrecy, shame, ignorance, and stigma. You do not tell your friends or family. You do not get help. You suffer in silence. Community resources are limited and difficult to access. You feel broken, trapped, and less than.
Parents with children who are experiencing mental health issues ignore the problem. They find other ways to rationalize it. They desperately want it to go away. They are embarrassed and shamed by their closest friends and family.
Suppose we truly eradicate the stigma of mental health and ensure that ALL humans get what they need. In that case, we need to stop and examine the beliefs and values of the culture. When we look at situations as educational leaders, we consider mitigating factors. What conditions impact the child or adult, and how do they factor in their behaviour, reasoning, and experience. Culture is one of these mitigating factors. We must seek to understand the norms, values, and beliefs of the culture. To support their understanding and find ways to cope, we must first understand their perspective. This is no easy task! We cannot assume that our beliefs, values, and mental health experiences are the same and, therefore, the right approach. If the ultimate goal is to get help and support for the individual or family, we need to listen and observe to determine the best path forward.
What do you know about the approach of other cultures to mental health? What have you learned?