Welcome back from winter break, slugs! We hope you had a restful and happy time with family and friends! However, sometimes spending time with family and friends can cause added pressure and bring up colliding viewpoints that can be stressful. Read on to hear Jonathon’s experiences dealing with stigma surrounding mental health in family situations and how he deals with it.
Adapting to Your Parents’ Views About Mental Health
by Jonathon Tsou
Most of you who read this blog understand that there is a stigma toward mental health. I would even go in length to say that you probably want to help remove stigma toward mental health. As a Peer Educator for CAPS, this is my goal too. I wanted to write this blog article because sometimes the most difficult group of people to talk about mental health with are our parents. A report by the National Institute of Health (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2735824/), showed that older adults with mental health illnesses are unlikely to seek professional help. This is not because they do not have access to mental health care, this is because they do not trust in it.
One of the issues that I hear from my peers is that they are afraid to tell their parents that they struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue. And for some parents, this is a real issue that they do not like to talk about. But I would like to stress that whenever anyone of us is struggling with mental health illnesses, it is important to have the support of your family. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a friend of mine who struggled with depression. She told me that the scariest thing about talking to her parents was not the part about depression, but about meeting with a therapist every month. She said she did not want to disappoint them and have them be upset with her. However, I do believe that her parents were not upset with her, but they may have been upset if they felt responsible or helpless in solving the problem.
It is difficult sometimes to understand and deal with generational gaps and cultural differences regarding important issues such as mental health. However, many of us deal with this struggle on a daily basis. We want to be honest and open with our parents while still respecting their differing ideas and values.
And of course some parents may be disappointed. But remember that it is important to take care of yourself and your own needs. Furthermore, you can find a supportive community of peers and friends at UCSC and utilize the resources available to you. CAPS and my fellow Peer Educators and I will always be on your side and support you all the way.