Feature by Simran Bharadwaj
Second generation individuals, the children of immigrant parents, may feel a disconnect when trying to talk to their parents about their mental health. Over the last two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic families were at home relying on each other to help them through this strange new world. Children may have attempted to talk about their mental health with their parents. However, there may have been a disconnect between parent and child, as parents were also stressed with the changes in their lives. Parent-child language discordance can also contribute to children not trying to connect or communicate with their parents when they need help.
Since there are so many reasons for disconnects to occur, it is important to understand why the disconnect occurs and how to try and bridge the communication gap. In some minority communities there can be a lack of cultural competence and therapeutic understanding because therapy and mental health are considered a taboo topic. There are increased barriers to culturally appropriate mental health care in areas with large ethnic minority populations, and high rates of poverty. This is due to the limited access to healthcare as well as the language barrier with minority populations. Even for children who are no longer living in poverty, mixed messages about mental health may have been passed down through their parents.
As a result of this constant disconnect, it can become difficult to heal. Mentalization based therapy is a therapeutic technique that can help greatly in these situations. Mentalization is the ability to think about thinking, meaning that individuals learn to observe one's thoughts and consider what someone else’s thoughts might be. This therapy modality can help repair relationships between parent and child when neither feel as though they are able to effectively communicate what they are thinking and feeling. Learning the other’s place in their own mental health journey as well as their understanding of mental health can be crucial in unpacking the other's response to you, in this case the response of parents to their children.
Feature by Nikita Fernandes
Narrative Therapy has emerged as one of the most powerful types of therapy to support minority communities. It has gained popularity in 2022 along with the rise of movements such as the Black Lives Matter and the focus on mental health after the pandemic. Narrative therapy is relatively new. It was developed in the 1980's by Michael White, an Australian social worker, and David Epston, a family therapist from New Zealand. It gained traction in the United States in the 1990's.
Narrative therapy is a nonpathologizing, empowering and collaborative experience for clients who hold minority identities. The empowering nature of this therapy can be experienced through nudging clients to reframe their past experiences, gain control over their present and shape a better future. Narrative therapy uses prompts to have client reflect over the stories they tell themselves about their life. For example, a therapist might ask a client to write about their past struggles and highlight what helped keep them afloat. This strengths based approach can help remind clients that they are much more resilient than they believe.