Mental Illness: The Hmong Culture

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Sarah Wilkes: Prompt 1 There are many negative stigmas in regards to seeking treatment for mental illness. Is it possible that people around the world choose to not seek treatment due to these stigmas? Or does one’s cultural beliefs keep them from seeking treatment as well? Negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition is common in America and countries around the globe. The stigma does not only pertain to the people who suffer from the mental illness but those who provide the treatment as well. Psychiatry is criticized for it’s a medicalization of normal behavior. As well as its lack of cultural competency ultimately leading to misdiagnosis of minority patients. With the recent change in global demographics,…show more content…
psychotic diagnosis is more prevalent than in other countries who are unfamiliar with western medicine. “With Lia it was good to do a little medicine and a little neeb, but not too much medicine because the medicine cuts the beeb's effect. If we did a little of each she didn't get sick as much, but the doctors wouldn't let us give just a little medicine because they didn't understand about the soul.” - (Fou Yang, 95) One culture that has been noted to oppose western medicine is the Hmong culture. The Hmong culture does not have a word for mental health , poor mental health meant that you had an unhappy spirit. In the book “When the Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” the Hmong trusted the shaman and other community members to heal Lia of epilepsy before they trust western doctors Epilepsy is a common neurological treatment that involved a general doctor and psychiatrist. In the novel there was a cultural clash between that of Hmong beliefs and western medicine, so much that the Hmong (Lia’s family) believed the medicine Lia was consuming was harming her soul. If Lia's doctors had took to the time to better understand why her parents wanted to limit the medication she took, they could have supported her parents efforts to seek spiritual and medical treatment while assuring the Lee's the medicine would do no harm to Lia’s soul. This is a classic example of the lack of cultural competency in psychiatric medicine that has led to the distrust of its treatments around the globe. Physicians are often so caught up in their course of treatment they forget to consider the
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