High angle view of diverse medical team working together at table in hospital. Coffee cup, medical folders, clipboard, digital tablet and laptop are on the table.

How do different cultures experience mental health?

Apart from these stressors, there are cultural and social differences to how we experience mental health.

Culture can impact how an individual experiences stress, trauma, and mental health.

  • Different cultures and communities can experience trauma differently. What might be traumatic for a person from one culture may not be for someone from a different culture
  • Different cultures and communities experience mental health symptoms differently. For example, people from some cultures are much more likely to describe physical symptoms when talking about their mental health (e.g., stomach aches, feeling “heavy” or weighted, cardiac-related issues, etc.)
  • Different cultures and communities can differ in beliefs, values, and ideas around talking about mental health. In some cultures, seeking mental health help is considered acceptable, whereas in others it may be discouraged or even considered shameful
  • Different cultures and communities have different ideas and ideals around healing the mind, body, and spirit. Therapeutic practices can vary greatly across cultures

For many people who grew up in a different culture but now live and work in a predominantly white Western community, it can be difficult to adapt to a newer fixed perspective through which Western society views mental health. Moreover, different generations of people who grew up within Western culture and work in the same environment may not align on how societal views have evolved over time.