Content Director: Mohammad Amaan Siddiqui
Authors: Diya Menon and Sakina BharmaL
Myths and misconceptions have plagued the minds of people for as long as mental health issues have. For this reason, issues related to mental health remain deeply stigmatised and highly misunderstood even today. And despite the recent emphasis, however, mental health and mental health care has not become a high priority in most Asian countries. In fact, over 450 million persons are reported to suffer from mental or neurological disorders in the continent.
In Asia, where many cultures value “conformity to norms, emotional self-control, and family recognition through achievement”, mental illnesses are often stigmatized and seen as a source of shame. This in addition to religious stigma, discrimination, ignorance, fear and psychological prejudice, gendered norms, and negative societal perceptions of mental illness has hindered help-seeking behaviour and subsequent recovery.
Beliefs about mental health and wellbeing vary across the wide range of cultures classed as Asian. There are however, a number of common elements across Asian cultures; these include: imbalances in the body which consequently result in negative behavioural states, religious and spiritual beliefs, traditional therapies etc. For many Asian people, shame, stigma and discrimination are key aspects of their experience of mental illness.
Anxiety is one such mental health issue which affects millions of men, women and adolescents, but sadly continues to remain largely unaddressed due to its trivialisation, and the stigma it carries like many other mental health problems.