Mental Health in Asian Communities

Mental health isn’t addressed enough in Asian communities.

For centuries there has been a stigma surrounding mental health problems in Asia. The bottom line is that we don’t talk about it enough. Thousands of people suffer from mental health problems in Asia and the Middle East, and I can imagine that only a small percentage of those affected by it actually receive treatment for it, or even attempt to go to their nearest GP/ hospital to get properly diagnosed.

But why?

One reason could be that it’s extremely expensive to receive medication for it. Not all countries are fortunate enough to have the NHS which supplies them with medication and free treatment. This means that adults often don’t attempt to get diagnosed because they know they won’t be able to receive treatment, thereby rendering their diagnosis useless.

As we all know, Asian countries aren’t the most prosperous, so we could even argue that governments and hospitals are reluctant to spend money on medication for mental health, when they could instead be using it for people in life threatening situations, or even, for the benefit of the whole country, such as in schools.

But I think there is something deeper than this, I believe that in Asian communities mental health is regarded as a weakness, as a signpost for one’s lack of masculinity, lack of femininity, lack of strength, perhaps as something which undermines your character as a whole, it’s an ideology that is so deeply rooted into the culture, it is hard to find the cause of it.

According to The Washington Post, ‘The Middle East and North Africa suffer the world’s highest depression rates.’ Also, a recent study published in the Public Library of Science, has found that more than 5% of people in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean have depression.

We must also account for the fact that countries currently in war, or stricken by poverty, do not have access to public health services, thus, rates of depression can not be wholly accurate as not all people suffering from mental health problems have been diagnosed.

People leaving their native countries is also something difficult to bear, being away from your loved ones, your familiar culture and your home can sometimes cause the ultimate sadness and grief because it strikes such a deep chord in your heart, and for this reason we must also acknowledge that mental health problems are definitely evident for Asian and Middle-Eastern people who have immigrated to other countries.

Something I want to establish, is that mental health should not be regarded as a mere insecurity of your son’s or daughter’s, it should not be dismissed so easily when someone comes to you seeking help and it should not be belittled. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and this is something the South-Asian and Middle-Eastern community must soon learn to accept and thrive upon.

Instead of ignoring your child’s mental health, talk to them about it and see how you can help them. Instead of dismissing the idea that your husband or wife might be suffering from chronic depression or social anxiety, find ways you can help them. In the modern day struggle of living in such expensive countries, such mental health problems have become more and more common. In fact, depression rates for millennials are the highest they have ever been for adults, highlighting the idea that mental health needs to be addressed more strongly in today’s society.

Having a mental health problem is not a weakness. It is not a trait that defines your personality, neither does it undermine who you are.

You can get help from family and friends, and from your local GP.

Hotlines :

Samaritans (116 123)

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41)