Cultural Psychology & Mental Health

Whilst modern Europeans may have difficulty seeing why current African Caribbeans should still be affected by the legacy of slavery over 150 years after abolition, it is hard to imagine the effect of constantly knowing that one’s ancestors were forcibly removed from their homeland to work on the plantations of the New World. Most Caribbean people insist that the African retentions of language, religions, and cultural expressions of art drama, dance and music present in everyday life are constant reminders of the major and often traumatic syncretism with European culture (Hickling and Ward, 2004).

People require more than food and shelter to survive. Instead of creating homes and jobs for Black people, institutional racism has created an environment designed to belittle, humiliate, and strip victims of their sense of worth.

Mental health services have drastically failed our people; instead of treating them, they stereotype them and institutionalise them into prisons and asylums – but not before medicating them first. Psychologists don’t understand the biopsychosocial symptoms of cultural mental health, and Western medicine doesn’t offer empirical guidance either. 

We need more people of colour in mental health services, which why even though I have a disability, I’m also training to do what I can to help.