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.
Simran Bharadwaj is a pre-professional licensed mental health therapist in New York City. You can contact Simran at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc.
Leave a Reply.