Why can people from ethnic minorities struggle to talk?
Updated: May 4, 2020
From my experience of working with people from ethnic minorities and from my own personal experience of being born into an ethnic minority, there can be times of conflict between the wants and needs of the individual and the wants and needs of the family or cultures they have been born into.
I have worked with people that have felt a great deal of pressure to either be successful, ‘marry well’ or live life in a certain way, in order to please their families. This pressure can sometimes lead to mental health difficulties and breakdowns of families. Acknowledging how you feel and accessing help can be difficult when issues of mental health are not recognised by families. People I have worked with have spoken about the stigma they feel is attached to having a mental health diagnosis and the implications of a personal failing.
When we are born or are living in a different country to our parents this can cause added complications. People have spoken about having a different cultural experience to that of their parents and the tension of living between two cultures. I have found that people I work with want to have a deeper understanding of their cultural heritage and how to make sense of this in the midst of family expectations and the norms of the wider culture. An example being wanting to commit to a partner of the same gender or a different ethnicity or religion.
So why is it so hard to talk about these issues?
Feel fear of being rejected by your family or community
Unsure of who to talk to
Your family culture doesn’t permit you to talk about feelings
Worried about being judged
Feel shame around not being perceived as grateful to your parents
If you have read this and you relate, please know that your experiences and feelings are valid and real. Pain is pain and you don’t need to compare your struggles to the ones your parents or relatives might have faced. I hope you can find the courage to speak up and seek support that’s right for you.
You don’t have to go it alone, it’s time to talk.