The following blog post was written by Tahira Ebrahim, Centre Liaison Officer at the School of Global Access.
In observance of Canada’s Multiculturalism Day, the Intercultural Centre, in collaboration with Learner Success Services, is hosting an interactive display that showcases mental health and resilience strategies from different parts of the world.
The display will examine a cross-section of cultural approaches to mental health, including practices and philosophies from Indigenous, Ayurvedic, as well as Western African traditional healer schools of thought.
The perception of mental health is perceived differently throughout the world. For Blackfoot Indigenous communities, perception may be based on the philosophy of “Iikaakiimaat, (e-gaw-gee-mot) meaning to persevere and find inner strength” (Schumiur Foundation, 2018). The philosophy provides “an encouragement to be steadfast in the face of hardship, transcend difficulties, and to achieve one’s goals” (Schumiur Foundation, 2018).
In Ayurvedic approaches, concepts of mental health “rests on the premise that most mental illness is caused by doshic imbalance leading to clouding of the perception and loss of understanding” (GIAM, 2014). Doshas are the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body (Andreeva, 2010). Focusing on the needs and preferences of an individual’s unique composition of doshas and responding with natural cures is seen as a preferred method of addressing any mental health concerns, over the use of pharmaceutical medication.
According to Akyeamphong (2015), traditional healers throughout the continent of Africa, particularly West Africa “use the prevailing knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs in the community about physical, mental, and social well-being and the causes of disease and disability” (p. 250). This form of care is founded upon spirituality and holistic approaches to someone, including studying both mental and physical conditions and symptoms of an individual, as well as considering familial and social context and conditions.
Accessing different methods of mental health care can be a powerful tool to not only openly acknowledge and honour different states and spectrums of mental health, but can also allow individuals to access various approaches to better suit their needs and identity.
Visit the display on Tuesday, June 20th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, in the South Campus Atrium, for more information.
Akyeampong, E. K., Hill, A. G., & Kleinman, A. (2015). The culture of mental illness and psychiatric practice in Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
Andreeva, N. (2010). Ayurveda and dosha types for beginners. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1117/Ayurveda-Dosha-Types-for-Beginners....
GIAM. (2014). The Ayurvedic approach to mental health. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://ayurveda.md/component/content/article?id=119&itemid=1
Price, A. (2017). Let's talk about Indigenous mental health. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from http://cmha.calgary.ab.ca/lets-talk-indigenous-mental-health-sheldon-m-c...