Culture and Mental Health

The late music icon John Lennon once said, “Imagine there’re no countries, it isn’t hard to do.” His idea here is that countries divide us, and it is much better to be citizens of the world wherein we all will unite us as one. This thought is far-fetched, but there is merit to what Lennon said.

What if we take that one step further? What if there are no cultures? How would that benefit us? In particular, how would it affect us in our mental health?

“Normal” behavior is hard to define. Admittedly, culture defines what is normal and what is not. There is no accurate definition of normal behavior, yet we can see it if a person is acting normally or not. This again would depend on the society we live in. Slurping while eating noodles soup is unpleasant behavior in most cultures, but people from Japan consider it normal. Driving a car in some parts of Europe should be on the left side of the road; do this in the United States and you will be considered deranged.

What is considered normal behavior?

Like I said, normal behavior depends on the culture of the society we live in. The unwritten guidelines are the same though. A normal person, regardless of where they are, have the following characteristics:

  1. Normal persons can adapt his actions according to the situation he is in.
  2. He or she understands cause and effect of his actions.
  3. They know who they are and the place, month, and year they are in.
  4. They have a purpose and do not wander aimlessly.
  5. They make plans.

Mental illnesses usually come about when a person cannot adapt to the belief system of the society he or she lives in.

When someone is unable to achieve a goal that either he/she set or was set by people around him, this brings an immense burden on that person’s shoulders. When a person cannot meet other people’s expectations, this brings about stress, anxiety, and could lead to depression.

So is society to blame for mental illness? I leave it to you to contemplate on that.

In the next several articles, I will discuss how societies cope with mental illnesses.

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