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Why Mental Wellness is Important for Cross-Cultural People

four multicultural friends sitting with crossed legs and covering mouths, cultural diversity

The number of people leading cross-cultural lives in the globalized world has grown rapidly. This group often embodies different cultural identities arising from the blended elements in the societies they live in. While cross-cultural living gives people different perspectives and experiences, it introduces unique mental issues that demand close attention and understanding.

Photo via Pexels
Photo via Pexels

Cross-cultural people mostly grapple with identity conflicts as they try to balance the cultural expectations of their families with those of social environments. The pressure to assimilate to their current environment while preserving their cultural heritage is a common stressor. Given the multifaceted challenges, these individuals need targeted mental health support. It helps them mitigate and overcome the following challenges.

IDENTITY AND BELONGING

Unfortunately, cross-cultural people don’t have a cohesive identity or sense of belonging. Most are brought up in areas where multiple cultural influences intersect. This makes it difficult for this group to understand where they fit. The intersection of different cultural expectations creates an internal conflict, which makes it difficult for them to develop their sense of self.

Generally, most cross-cultural people have fragmented identities. They are pulled by cultures they inhabit in different directions. For instance, those of Asian descent living in Western countries feel some tension between the collectivist values of their culture and the ethos of Western society. This leads to confusion and a lack of clarity about their identity.

Cross-Cultural Professional Dialogue in Office
Photo via Envato Elements

Mental health professionals should employ culturally sensitive strategies that validate the different aspects of this group’s identity. Therapists should consider their cultural backgrounds and focus on creating a cohesive self-concept that reduces internal conflict.

STRESS AND ANXIETY

Cross-cultural individuals experience sets of unique stressors that negatively affect their mental health. Having to live between different cultural worlds is stressful. They also develop anxiety due to language barriers, discrimination, and the need to assimilate into new cultures.

four multicultural friends sitting with crossed legs and covering mouths, cultural diversity
Photo via Envato Elements

Language barrier is the most immediate source of stress for this population. This especially affects refugees and immigrants. Communication issues often lead to misunderstandings and isolation. Unfortunately, this cuts across academic and social settings. The inability to express oneself or understand hinders personal and professional growth.

Discrimination and microaggressions also cause stress and anxiety. Racism and cultural insensitivity make them feel isolated, anxious, and unworthy. Even minor microaggressions like offhand comments can have a significant impact on their mental health.

Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive approach. Governments should focus on providing accessible mental health services and assistance to this community. Special interventions, like psychic readings, can help overcome stress and anxiety for some. Community-based support groups also play an important role in helping these people.

NAVIGATING RELATIONSHIPS

Forming interpersonal relationships is a challenge for cross-cultural individuals. For starters, they encounter a clash of traditions and values right from the family level. A good example is the challenge children of immigrants go through trying to balance the cultural values of their parents and the new environment.

Group of young cross-cultural cheerful friends in casual wear looking at you holding a large
Photo via Envato Elements

There are also conflicting expectations surrounding their education, marriage, gender roles, and careers. This often strains family and individual relationships. Mental health interventions to solve these issues should include family systems. Therapists should encourage affected persons to improve their communication and mutual understanding.

END NOTE

While several interventions have been put in place to address the mental health needs of cross-cultural populations, there is room for improvement. A good percentage of this population encounters barriers to accessing effective support. Additionally, the available services aren’t culturally sensitive, making them ineffective. Culturally sensitive support and community-based initiatives can help.



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