Reflective Essay On Mental Health And Stigma - University - Reflective Essay

1576 words - 7 pages

• Reflect on the role that the colonisation of Australia has played, and continues to play, in the discrepancies between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
I am Australian. I am Arab. I am Muslim. I am considered a non-aboriginal. Above all, though, I am
human. I was welcomed to Australia when I was 2 years old. When I was 5, I was awarded with a
citizenship. The same year, an aboriginal man robbed my family and I, and stole our goods and
money. When we told fellow members of the Australian (non-aboriginal) community, they responded
with many vulgar comments and one that to this day stands out to me was: “Yeah mate, just be careful
from those mobs, they’re dangerous, sayin’ it’s their land an’ all, ungrateful bastards.” My parents
taught us to stay away from these ‘mobs’. Such negative stereotypes are a primary cause of the social,
economic and cultural disadvantages of aboriginal people. They are often judged as being ‘less than’
from the get-go, thereby keeping them from having the same access to opportunities as the rest of us
(Clarke, 2019).
Of course, any accounting of the current predicament of Aboriginal people is incomplete without
considering the horrifying history of the oppressive colonisation of Australia, and its long-term
consequences for the community. The brutal means of the colonisation of Australia changed the lives
of Aboriginal people forever, and to this day, they have not fully recovered. As a result of
colonisation, their well-being was jeopardised, with no education or a means of freedom, with no
property and no prosperity (Clarke, 2019). With the past as it was, they have had to struggle even in
their present.
The discrepancy in the lifestyle and treatment of aboriginals and Non-Aboriginals is a predecessor to
many other injustices. As I reflect on their heartbreaking history, it angers me, that aboriginals were
treated unfairly. Their pride for their land was obliterated. I can understand this because as a refugee, I
was deprived of growing in my homeland freely. They were stripped of their identities, forced to
change their names and their privileges were purloined. In fact, they are the “stolen generation”. They
were bounded and hounded to respond silently to their colonisers’ demands. Over 20,000 were
massacred due to colonial violence (Clarke, 2019). Slavery and labour became their life style (Clarke,
2019). They lost a sense of where they belonged, they forgot the roots of where they came from. Two
centuries have passed since the colonisation of Australia began and, yet, to this day, aboriginals are
treated as being subpar.
Another area where Aboriginals are at a significant disadvantage compared to non-Aboriginals is in
their standard of health. Aboriginals have approximately a 10-year lower life expectancy than non-
aboriginals (Houston & Legge, 2010). Even as an Arab Australia, I have distinct advantage over
Aboriginals and this inequality distresses me. As a non-aboriginal, I am at an advantage with a decade
more of experiencing this world. Colonisation has created lower life expectancies as well as poorer
health and higher rates of infant mortality among Aboriginals (Houston & Legge, 2010). As I reflect
upon this devastating information, it renders in my mind how the past remains alive in their present.
Their pain isn’t acknowledged in its entirety. This infuriates me because they are human beings, and
most of all, they are the original owners of this land. It saddens me that this was, actually, their home,
yet they are now treated as strangers in it. It is devastating that they are still suffering from the
consequences of crimes committed more than a century ago (Holdom, 2015). That they are so
affected by their past and left with a deteriorated culture, language and wellbeing, and still unable to
surmount the long-term complications upon their community.
Seeing it from an open-minded perspective, during a discussion with “Cultural Studies” students, we
discussed that aboriginals have been owed back with many advantages such as free study and free
accommodations (Beasley, 2011). “So, why do some take it for granted?”, one student asked. I
thought about it and said they are able to provide a change for their future and change the statistic
around and it disappoints me that most do not take this advantage. An aboriginal student in return
said, “it is due to the pain of the past, that their injury is so grievous, they have been left paralysed by
it.” Ultimately, we concluded that health, education and lifestyle are factors that are so vast in
difference between aboriginals and non-aboriginals and this is due to the impacts of colonisation.
Beasley, J. (2011). Developing Aboriginal Community Involvement in Education. The
Aboriginal Child At School, 10(04), 39-41. doi: 10.1017/s0310582200012293
Clarke, D. (2019). Negative impact of colonisation on Indigenous culture and lifestyles.
Retrieved from
Fogarty, G., & White, C. (2014). Differences between Values of Australian Aboriginal and
Non-Aboriginal Students. Journal Of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 25(3), 394-408. doi:
Holdom, C. (2015). Sentencing Aboriginal Offenders: Recognising Disadvantage and the
Intergenerational Impacts of Colonisation. QUT Law Review, 15(2), 50. doi:
Houston, S., & Legge, D. (2010). Aboriginal health research and the National Aboriginal
Health Strategy. Australian Journal Of Public Health, 16(2), 114-115. doi:
TOPIC 4- Across the world, various cultures have adopted a range of health models with different health beliefs and attitudes. Despite this variation, many cultures share a common negative attitude and approach to mental illness and mental ill health.
• Reflect on why this might be the case.
Tabarak. That is my name. In the Quran, it is defined as “blessed”. My name is representative
of my journey, my religion, my race and my culture. As a Muslim and as an Arab, I have
seen mental illness being treated as a taboo topic in my community, as it is in many other
cultures. Through my personal perspective, I have employed my sociological imagination to
reflect on the reasons behind the negative attitudes that some cultures have to mental
On review, a certain mindset is influenced from conservative societies (Krendl & Freeman,
2017). Assuming I approached a fellow aunty within my community and informed her that I
may be mentally ill, my name will not be “blessed” anymore. I will be discriminated against,
and dubiously avoided. A look of disapproval will be directed at me. To understand their
perspective, I spoke to an aunty about it, and she said, “you are powerful enough to strive to
be happy and release any negativity.” She doesn’t believe in the medical perspective of
mental illness, she believes in a philosophical aspect and that their descendants dealt with it
this way, therefore, that’s how future generations should portray it. I agree with her
perspective; I do not agree that it is easily solved because medical terms are different to
philosophical terms.
Culture and religion in most cases are interconnected, and this is one of many reasons as to
why mental health is often perceived with a negative attitude (Ottewell, 2016). Lecture 4
discusses this and defines the interconnection as “cultural identity”. Cultural identity
influences how an individual view’s and responds to other cultures and individuals. As said,
religious identities are comprised within cultural identity, this affects how an individual of
that cultural identity views sufferers or the community of the mentally ill Sufferers will be
regarded as the ‘other’, and different. They will be told that they lack faith in God. They
won’t think of it as an illness requiring treatment, just as any other physical illness is. I agree
that faith greatly influences positive energy; however, chemical imbalances are a
physiological process of the brain, which affects the mood of a person, therefore affecting
their mental stability (Abdullah & Brown, 2011).
Reflecting on the other reasons behind the negative attitudes towards mental illnesses, one
that stands out is ignorance (Krendl & Freeman, 2017). It is simply impossible to have a
meaningful and respectful conversation about something we are ignorant of. This was evident
once I reviewed studies that looked at what people thought of mental illness. A ‘personal
weakness’ is how depression is described by over half of African-Americans, more than a
quarter of African-Americans say they can deal with depression themselves and
approximately 33% would accept medication by a professional World Mental Health
suggested 22% of individuals in developing countries and 11% of individuals in developed
countries felt ashamed, afraid and avoided seeking treatment due to discrimination(Carr &
Halpin, 2019). There is a crucial need for increasing awareness and education about mental
health among all schools of practice and faith.
Why engender isolation within your community? I feel exasperated at the nescience of some
communities. Negative attitudes by cultures to mental illnesses is due to a community’s
ignorance of mental health, and it’s also because of how the media negatively portrays mental
illnesses. Furthermore, it’s because of conservative mindsets (Ottewell, 2016).
Abdullah, T., & Brown, T. (2011). Mental illness stigma and ethnocultural beliefs, values,
and norms: An integrative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 934-948. doi:
Carr, V., & Halpin, S. (2019). Retrieved from
Cultural Perspectives on Mental Health. (2019). Retrieved from
Kobau, R. (2019). Retrieved from
Krendl, A., & Freeman, J. (2017). Are mental illnesses stigmatized for the same reasons?
Identifying the stigma-related beliefs underlying common mental illnesses. Journal Of
Mental Health, 1-9. doi: 10.1080/09638237.2017.1385734
Ottewell, N. (2016). Stigma against mental illness: Perspectives of mental health service
users. Mental Health & Prevention, 4(3-4), 115-123. doi: 10.1016/j.mhp.2016.10.001

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