Theoretical Perspective

Defining Mental Health

Many Western groups advocate viewing mental health issues from a medical model. Providers of mental health services and advocates for the mentally ill use this medical model with the intention of reducing the stigma placed on the individual diagnosed with the mental illness. Yet, consider the startling finding that, “those who adopted the biomedical and genetic beliefs about mental illness were most often those who wanted less contact with the mentally ill or thought of them as dangerous and unpredictable” (Watters, 2010, p. 173). Western conceptualization of mental health and illness has spread across the globe and impacted how individuals are treated. For example, cultures may have initially been more tolerant of these behaviors due to factors such as externalized locus of control, beliefs in traditional healing, spiritual beliefs, and less expressed emotion. (Watters, 2010)

Select a culture from the resources and consider how this culture perceives mental illness

1. Explain your definitions of good mental health and poor mental health.

2. Explain two ways your own culture influences your definitions of mental health.

3. Explain how your definition of mental health might differ from that of your selected culture.

4. Describe a behavior that is considered normal in your culture but would be considered abnormal in the culture you selected.

Support your responses using the resources attached as well as evidenced based current literature.

Watters, E. (2010). The shifting mask of schizophrenia in Zanzibar. In Crazy like us: The globalization of the American psyche (pp. 127–186). New York, NY: Free Press.

Article: Auerbach, R. P., Abela, J. Z., Xiongzhao, Z., & Shuqiao, Y. (2010). Understanding the role of coping in the development of depressive symptoms: Symptom specificity, gender differences, and cross-cultural applicability. British Journal of Clinical Psychology49(4), 547–561.

  • Article: Herrman, H, Saxena, S., & Moodie, R. (Eds.). (2005). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice. 
  • Article: Nastasi, B. K., Varjas, K., Sarkar, S., & Jayasena, A. (1998). Participatory model of mental health programming: Lessons learned from work in a developing country. School Psychology Review27(2), 260–276.
  • Article: Sue, S. (2002). Asian American mental health: What we know and what we don’t know. In W. J. Lonner, D. L. Dinnel, S. A. Hayes, & D. N. Sattler (Eds.), Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 3, Chapter 4). 
  • Article: Triandis, H. C. (2011). Culture and self-deception: a theoretical perspective. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal39(1), 3–13.

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