Cross-cultural Differences in Mental Health

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My research is focused on explaining why we find differences between Eastern and Western culture regarding mental health. My topic is focused on taking a biocultural approach by examing different environmental, social, and biological factors that could possibly influence these differences. My initial research found that one of the hugest differences is anxiety disorders occur more in western cultures as opposed to eastern cultures. This topic is important because mental illness affects many people around the globe. This research topic is important in regards to Eastern immigrants who moved to Western countries. Specifically speaking, the United States. Cultures seem to play a huge part in treating mental illness. If we gain some insight into these differences, we may be able to help treat immigrants with mental illness more efficiently. 

I obtain ten scholarly sources using the Univerity of Florida database and Google Scholar. I examine the sources I came across to make sure the research related to my research topic. The results seem to reflect that these difference are mainly due to the culture difference. Generally speaking, Eastern cultures seem themselves as a collective group. Whereas, Western cultures view themselves as individuals. Western cultures are goal driven. While Eastern cultures are a focus on obtaining harmony. This could be a huge reason why the prevalence of anxiety disorders in Western cultures is higher. I believe using this information, we can impact the mental health field. We can change our treatment based on a person's culture and even learn something from different cultures. In American, we can try to help people see success as harmony rather than personal gain. I believe this research can help make a huge improvement when it comes to mental health and increases the number of people who are reaching out for help.

Annotated Bibliography

In their research, Butler and Gross discuss emotional suppression. Emotional suppression is often found in Asian cultures. This is quite the contrast in American cultures. Generally, studies have reported that Asians will suppress unpleasant feelings. While Americans are generally encouraged to share their unpleasant feelings. This demonstrates the different social aspects of eastern and western cultures. Butler and Gross found that Americans suffer more deleterious effects due to emotional suppression than Asian cultures. Although this research is fascinating, it does not mean that people from Asian cultures do not experience deleterious effects from suppression. This research is quite important because emotional suppression can affect one's state of mental illness. Emotional suppression can explain why we see differences in mental health in western and eastern cultures. This study is useful because emotional suppression can be common for racial minorities. We can use what we know to prevent emotional suppression as it can cause harm to the individual.

Authors Cohen and Gunz both examined emotional perceptions of Easterners and Westerners. The findings the researchers found were quite interesting. Asians were more likely than Westerners to see view themselves in the perspective of another person. It was found that Asians are also more likely to view memories in the third person than Westerners. Westerners typically view memories in the first person. Moreover, when trying to read the emotions of other people both Westerners and Easterns took different approaches. Westerns tended to use egocentric projection. They expected emotions in other people to work just the same as their individual emotions work. Easterners were completely opposite. Easterners tend to use relational projection. This study relates to my research topic because it discusses the social aspects of how Easterners and Westerners different in regards to emotional perspectives. Emotional perspectives can extremely important when conducting therapy. For example, it is very imperative for the therapists (especially western therapists) to stray away from using egocentric projection as it can lead to miscommunication when discussing mental health. This research is useful to help us understand how to be careful to avoid bad habitats when it comes to therapy for clients.

Corrigan discusses self-stigma. Self-stigma is when an individual feels inferior or weak due to a ailment they might have. They are many types of stigma. Corrigan found that self-stigma can affect ones self-efficacy and self-esteem. Althought it doesn’t discuss any differences cross culturally. This research is related to my topic because the stigma is something that greatly affects mental health. It is nearly impossible to eliminate. This research is useful because in the health field we typically discuss how other people stigmatize others, but individuals internally stigma as well.

Furnham and Cheng collected data from Japan, China, and Britain. They sought out to measure happiness, mental health, and overall health. Surprisingly they found that British have higher levels of happiness, mental health, and physical health. This seems to contradict my research on anxiety disorders is more prevalent in Western countries. Although data was not collected from Americans. The results could vary if Americans were chosen in this study. This is related to my topic because it looks at the overall health of people, which can be an indicator of mental health. Physical health is important to measure because somatic symptoms can be a sign of distress. I think this study is useful because it is important to recognize that each culture could use improvement in the mental health filed. Moreover, we all face problems, regardless of our culture.

Koenig, Zaben, and Khalifa compare and contrast mental health in the West and the Middle East by examing religion. In the West, it is overwhelming Christian beliefs. While in the Middle East, it is overwhelmingly Islam beliefs. The authors collect research from religious people from West and East countries. The researcher examines their self-esteem, well-being, a locus of control, optimism, and purpose in life. Overall, they found both East and West religious people have higher self-esteem than those who are not religious. Religion plays a huge part in their mental health. The research shows that when religion is incorporate in therapy for both groups, results from therapy were improved. This study is useful for my research because while there are differences among West and East, it is important to note there are similarities as well. It is important to note research that might not support my questions to avoid purposely skewing my results.

The authors focus on the measurement tools used to assess depression and anxiety in East Asia. We find that East Asians use different measurements than Western cultures. While these tools are different, they seem to measure anxiety and depression very well for East Asians. The research also suggests that East Asians experience somatic symptoms of anxiety and depression. These findings are imperative because people might not recognize that have a mental health issue and put it off as something physical issue. My prior research has found many people will have some level of distress in their lifetime, but most will not reach out for help. The fact that symptoms manifested in people differently suggested that health professionals need to educate the public, so they can be aware and seek help if needed. This study relates to my topic by showing a biological basis for why we see differences in mental illness in easterners and westerners. This research is useful because it can help the public be more aware of their symptoms that could be due to mental illness and seek help.

Mori reviews a problem that is not widely discussed at American universities. The concern of international students is often 'overlooked' (Mori, 2000) Mori address the problem in his article. International students can often go through a culture shock, especially students from collect countries. Mori found that international students experience more distress than native students and are less likely to utilize resources at school. This is related to my topic because it refers to students who are coming from different cultures who might struggle to adjust to schools in America. This research is useful because college campuses need to sure that there are resources for international students.

Research has found that in individualistic cultures emotional experiences were associated with life satisfaction. While collectivistic cultures consider emotional experience important for life satisfaction as well. Although, there is evidence that an individual's life satisfaction is determined by social and cultural norms. In short, outside forces play a stronger role in collectivistic cultures. This research is related to my topic because it discusses the different social factors of cultures. Life satisfaction is viewed quite differently across cultures. This is useful information that can be used for many implications. It suggests that one must consider the role that other people play in one's happiness. Especially if the person's family is collectivistic or individualistic.

Uchida and Kitayama found that generally Japanese and Americans view happiness quite different. The study found that Americans associated happiness with personal achievement. While the Japanese associated happiness with “social harmony.” These findings are related to my topic because they discuss the cultural differences from eastern and western countries in regard to happiness. Happiness is related to one's mental health. Moreover, how people view happiness is determined by one's locus of control. A person’s locus of control can determine how someone tackles conflict or stress. This study is useful because it shows statistical data of how both eastern and western cultures differ in regard to mental health. However, this study takes a different angle, by looking at how different groups view happiness and unhappiness.

According to the World Health Organization about 'one in four people' (WHO 2001.) will be affected with a mental illness at some point their lives. However, roughly 66 percent will not seek treatment. (WHO 2001) Many do not seek treatment because of stigma and expensive cost. So many people could potentially want help, but don't have the access to resources to do so. This is related to my research because stigma and money is a social reason people don't seek help. These factors can greatly affect one's mental health regardless of one's culture. This study is useful in my research because it can help public servants find ways to make treatment and resources available to everyone despite these social factors.

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Cross-cultural Differences In Mental Health. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved December 1, 2023 , from

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