Different people, different needs

May 1, 2017

Not everyone sees mental health and mental illness the same way. There can be cultural differences or differences based on social identity – some languages don’t have a word for depression – and behaviours that may seem odd in one culture might be perfectly fine in another. 

Risks for mental illness vary, and so do people’s treatment needs. It’s important to be sensitive to cultural differences and differences in social identity.

Remember that people with mental illnesses come from all races, genders, class backgrounds, and cultures. These parts of their identity can affect the approaches used to dealing with mental health.

If you have a co-worker with mental health concerns and you want to help, here are three questions to ask yourself to check your own possible biases:

  • Am I making assumptions that need to be checked with the member?
  • Am I assuming that a member’s race, gender, sexual orientation, age or any other social identity does or doesn’t matter in supporting them or advocating for them through this situation?
  • Do I need to ask the member directly if there are more ways they could be supported respectfully and appropriately?