Health Psychology

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Cultural barriers affecting the mental health of Indigenous people

Cultural barriers certainly have a crucial impact in affecting the mental health of Indigenous people. This is evident as Indigenous people tend to have considerably high levels of stress and anxiety in their lives stemming from the consequences of trauma and grief of stolen generation and dispossession which is intricately linked to mental health and disorder (Craven, 2006).This common pattern of loss of culture, land, voice, family and dignity resulted in poor mental wellbeing for many Indigenous generations over the past century (Brown, 2001). However, problems still continue due to the inadequate research in the mental health of indigenous people. This results in
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However, Indigenous teenagers might avoid accessing traditional psychological services for support because of the cultural biases that exist within many of the mental health services. For instance, Western counselling and psychotherapy techniques focus mainly on independence and individuality, whereas indigenous cultures are collectivist and emphasise social interdependence. If a mental health professional is unfamiliar and unaware with the cultural norms of Indigenous people, such as emotional expression, these expressions may be misinterpreted and could affect the course of the treatment (Craven, 2006).Thus, indigenous teenagers will find Western approaches ineffective as they do not suit their cultural contexts (Paradies, 2006).

Paradies, (2006) has found that almost one third of Indigenous youth were bullied sometime at school, with the patterns of bullying being very similar for males and females. The most frequent ages for being bullied occurred at 12 and 17 years and it was also found that if the Indigenous youth’s primary carers were both non-Indigenous, they were significantly more likely to be bullied. With regard to problematic behaviours, it was found that bullying was associated with increased levels of smoking and marijuana use. One in five Indigenous youth reported being discriminated against because of their Aboriginality. Like bullying, racism was associated with increased smoking and marijuana use and

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