The Impact of Cultural and Societal Expectations on Mental Health

The Impact of Cultural and Societal Expectations on Mental Health


Mental health is a significant issue around the world. It affects all aspects of life, including work, education, and relationships with friends and family. Culture plays a vital role in how we perceive mental illness, which has many consequences for people's well-being. In this article, we will explore the impact that culture has on mental health by looking at societal expectations and stigma surrounding mental health issues in different cultures around the world.

Societal Expectations on Mental Health

A person with a mental health problem may feel overwhelmed by their problems, but they can still function in society. They might have trouble getting out of bed each morning or concentrating on work tasks, but they can still go to work and meet deadlines. A person with a severe illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder will not be able to function well in society because their symptoms prevent them from doing so. This is why it's essential for people who experience these types of symptoms to seek help from professionals as soon as possible--it's not only good for your own health (and happiness), but also for those around you who care about you!


Stigma is a barrier to seeking help. When you're battling with your mental health, stigma can cause you to feel ashamed and embarrassed. This can make it harder for you to reach out and get the help that you need.

Stigma against people with mental health problems comes from both internal and external sources. It's often not easy for people with mental health problems themselves--or even their loved ones--to admit that they need support because they worry about what others will think or say about them if they share their struggles openly: "What would my family think if I told them I was depressed?" "Will my boss fire me if she finds out about these panic attacks?"

Stigma may also come from others who don't understand what it means when someone says "I'm depressed" or who assume all depressed people are lazy or selfish, or crazy in some way (the latter assumption is called stereotyping). The media plays a significant role here; many TV shows portray characters suffering from depression as violent criminals who have no control over their actions because of this illness--and this depiction doesn't always match up well with reality!


Experience is subjective. It's essential to listen to people's experiences, but it's also important not to assume that someone's experience is an indicator of mental health. In fact, there are many factors that can influence a person's experience and make it difficult for them to recognize their own mental health issues. For example, if you grew up in a culture where it was taboo or shameful to talk about your feelings with others (especially your family), then you might find yourself feeling isolated and unable to seek help when needed because of this stigma against talking about emotions openly.

As another example: many cultures have expectations around gender roles which may influence how one sees themselves as either masculine or feminine; these expectations often lead us into specific patterns of behavior based on how society views gender roles--for example, if someone identifies as "feminine" but feels like they don't fit into those roles well enough due to some aspect(s) of their personality or identity (e.,g., being gay), then they may feel depressed because they're not living up

to everyone else's expectations around what makes someone feminine enough--this could lead them down a path towards self-destructive behaviors such as cutting themselves or binge drinking alcohol every night after work so that they can forget everything going on in their lives at home!


  • Health care providers
  • Community resources
  • Counseling services
  • Support groups and peer support networks for people with mental health issues. These can be found in many places, including universities, churches, synagogues, YMCAs/YWCAs, hospitals, and clinics that specialize in treating mental illness (e.g., Veterans Affairs facilities), online forums such as Reddit's /r/depression page or Twitter hashtags such as #mentalhealthmonday (which takes place every Monday).


Workplace stress is a common source of mental health problems for people around the world. Workplace culture, expectations, and bullying all contribute to this stress.

In some cultures, it's considered normal for people to work long hours or give up their weekends in order to get ahead at work. This can put an unnecessary strain on your mental health as well as your physical health if it means that you don't get enough sleep or exercise regularly.

Workplace discrimination can also cause distress if you believe yourself to be treated unfairly because of your gender identity or sexual orientation (or another protected characteristic). In addition to impacting your immediate well-being through feelings of anger and frustration, workplace discrimination may lead employees with these experiences into unemployment which can increase their risk factors for poor mental health outcomes in later life, such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Cultural Expectations on Mental Health

Cultural expectations are deeply ingrained in our society and can play a significant role in mental health. For example, the importance of family is often emphasized in many cultures, while community tends to be more important than individual needs or wants. Work is also valued differently across various cultures; where one group might see work as a source of pride and accomplishment, another may view it as an obligation that interferes with other goals such as spirituality or personal development.

Finally, traditional medicine approaches are often used alongside Western medical practices (or vice versa). These methods include herbs and other natural products; acupuncture; massage therapy; meditation techniques such as yoga or tai chi--you name it!

Cultural Stigma

Stigma is a social label that defines a person as deviant. It can be positive or negative, but it always involves some form of social rejection. For example, if you have a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety disorder and you tell your coworkers about it, they may ostracize you because they don't want to associate with someone who has "a problem."

Stigma can also be internalized--the person who experiences stigma begins to believe that he/she is inferior in some way because of their identity. This leads to feelings of shame and isolation, which are known risk factors for poor mental health outcomes (e.g., suicide ideation).

Individualism and Familialism

Individualism and familial are two cultural values that can be in conflict with each other, and they have a strong influence on how mental health is perceived. Individualism is a cultural value of independence and self-reliance; it's rooted in the belief that you are your own person, responsible for yourself alone. Familialism is the opposite: it emphasizes interdependence with other people (family), as well as with nature or God.

Familialism has been linked to higher rates of depression because it's hard to feel like you belong when society tells you otherwise. For example, if you're not married by 25 or 30 years old (commonly expected ages), then there must be something wrong with you!


The takeaway is that the societal expectations we have of ourselves and others can have a significant impact on our mental health.

We need to be aware of these expectations and how they might be affecting us, so we can make sure they don't negatively influence our well-being.


The impact of cultural and societal expectations on mental health is a complicated one. While it's true that these expectations can lead to stigma, they can also be a source of support for people dealing with mental illness. This is why we must work together as a society to educate ourselves about different cultures and how they affect our healthcare system--and then act accordingly!


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