Inequality And Mental Health Issues

Originally published by Nani Lawrence, tardistrekker24 on In Good Health. The GroundUp has been granted permission to republish the article with edits.

The inequality most of us face contributes to mental health issues. For example, why do you think Indigenous men are stereotyped as alcoholics? There is a basis in reality for this stereotype: many Indigenous people are depressed because they are routinely oppressed, and sans adequate support, many of these people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol and other drugs. Because of the prevalence of inequality it is important for marginalized communities to practice self care.

I know there are several hang-ups surrounding seeking treatment or even admitting a mental health struggle, but I’ll address cultural hang-ups to seeking treatment specifically.

Seeking treatment for mental health issues has become more socially acceptable and social openness about mental health issues has become more normalized. That’s almost laughable to say given that the past four years have been spent under Trump’s boot, but I honestly believe that the segment of the population we see pushing back against the normalization of mental health issues is way more covert and discreetly organized, not as televised, and much more militantly committed to keeping staunch normatives about what is socially acceptable in the terrain of mental health. Having noted this, the dying-out status-quo still equates needing help, especially with mental health, to being weak.

Another barrier, and a very unfortunate dimension of mental health is that many symptoms of mental illness directly impair a person from improving their situation. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea; clearly, the Austin Powers' movies are meant to be ridiculous, but I love the conundrum expressed by Fat Bastard in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me because it’s so simply laid out: “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat.”