Sample Psychology Paper on Cultural Stigma with Mental Health

Mental illness alters the thinking, decision making, abilities and mood of the sufferer. Treatment for mental illness has been proven effective in improving the quality of life of the patients. However, 70 percent of the individuals suffering from mental health do not seek treatment (Khoury, 2017). The major causes of this treatment gap include limited knowledge about the symptoms, negative attitudes in the society towards mental illness, and fear of getting stigmatized once one has been diagnosed with the illness.

In Hinduism, mental illness is associated with spiritual, magical and naturalistic realms of human existence. While the western cultures are concerned with dichotomies such as mind and body or nurture versus nature, Hinduism applies a wholistic approach in defining mental health (Padayachee & Laher, 2014). The belief system of the Hindus views the various aspects of human existence as both integrated and independent. Mental health is perceived as a result of lack of balance in the spiritual and physiological aspects of the patient (Padayachee & Laher, 2014). To be perceived as such in this community is a source of shame, resulting in stigma.

Stigma against mental illness has a lot to do with the cultural background of the patient. Some cultures view a person suffering from mental illness as tainted and not whole (De Luca et at., 2016). No one would like to be considered as such. Some cultures associate mental illness with demon possession, which makes the rest of the members of the community to view the patient with suspicion and avoidance (Seeman, 2016). The mental illness victims are often viewed as strange, weak and sometimes dangerous.

This stigma directed towards persons with mental illness is caused by the stereotypes that persist in the community. These stereotypes then inform the behavior of the rest of the community towards the mental illness patients. The discriminative treatment of persons with mental illness causes them not to seek treatment because it would make their condition known to their family and consequently, the community (Seeman, 2016). The stigma forces the patients into denial, secrecy and non-disclosure to others. The more the patient stays without intervention, the higher the likelihood of the condition worsening (Han & Pong, 2015). The cultural stigma on mental health is deeply imbedded into the psyche of the members of the community, making it hard to eliminate it and increase compliance to treatment.




De Luca, S.,M., Blosnich, J. R., Hentschel, E. A., W., King, E., & Amen, S. (2016). Mental health care utilization: How race, ethnicity and veteran status are associated with seeking help. Community Mental Health Journal, 52(2), 174-179. doi:

Han, M., & Pong, H. (2015). Mental health help-seeking behaviors among asian american community college students: The effect of stigma, cultural barriers, and acculturation. Journal of College Student Development, 56(1), 1-14.

Khoury, D. (2017). Mental health provider cultural competence in the provision of services to Arabs. Journal Of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity In Social Work, 1-19. doi: 10.1080/15313204.2017.1409677

Padayachee, P., & Laher, S. (2014). South african hindu psychologists’ perceptions of mental illness. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(2), 424-37. doi:

Seeman, M. (2016). Long-term non-catatonic mutism in schizophrenia: cultural influences. International Journal Of Culture And Mental Health10(2), 121-126. doi: 10.1080/17542863.2016.1246582