Article by: Noemi Flores, MSW, SWC
As a bilingual/bicultural woman with Mexican roots, I have always made it a priority to immerse myself in both my cultures as well as my husband’s Central American roots. Many individuals, just like me, are familiar with the struggle of juggling two languages, two or three cultures, and a diverse set of values and beliefs.
As many of us already know, language shapes the way we communicate, while culture shapes our actions, principals, and views. As I began my journey through graduate school a couple years ago, I started to dive into the correlation of mental health, culture, and language. Although mental health carries a stigma across the board for all cultures, this stigma is heightened for members of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Unfortunately, mental health does not discriminate. Research states 1 out of every 5 individuals suffer from a mental illness.
It is imperative that, as a society, we begin to have open conversations about mental health. WE are the change agents for our families, students, friends, and communities. By openly discussing mental health, we can begin to break down barriers such as cultural stigmas, fear of being labeled, and systemic racism and begin to build and create culturally sensitive materials. These steps will lead us to become happier, healthier, and more educated members of this community.