In or her community. A mental illness

In order to define mental illness aframework for the definition of mental health must first be put forward.  In accord to the definition provided by theWHO (World Health Organization), mentalhealth is: “… a state of well-being in which theindividual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stressesof life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make acontribution to his or her community” (, 2017).

As aforementioned,mental health comprises of an individual’s capacity to realise one’s ownabilities, coping with the stresses faced in their lives, working productively;therefore being able to positively contribute towards his or her community. Amental illness in practice is therefore a state in which an individual isunable to constitute any one of these social and personal frameworks. Furthermore,mental illness has a number of different sociological and cultural definitions,founded by the variety of different cultures and societies it is found in. TheAPA defines mental illness as “health conditions involvingchanges in thinking, emotion or behaviour (or a combination of these). Mentalillnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social,work or family activities” (Psychiatry.

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org, 2017). Mentalillness has historically been viewed in cultural contexts founded uponreligious or spiritual ideals. This most prominently, currently impactscultural definitions outside of modern western culture; although asaforementioned, historically religious or spiritual ideals have also come intoplay in Western societies. People have historically been found to attributemental illness to a number of religious and spiritual causes, these are namelydefined by “possessionby evil spirits, Djinns or demons, others however, might view a person withmental illness as being cursed or affected by the work of witchcraft, aSorcerer or the devil’s eye.

Some might even view such as a religious awakeningor a holy message from God and thereby link it with a higher spirit” (Mehraby,2017).Inthe Middle East and Asia, attitudes towards mental illness have generallyremained the same over the years. This is especially true in countries wherethere is no pertinent cultural understanding or concept of psychologicalproblems (Mehraby, 2017). Examples of these countries include Afghanistan,Vietnam, China, countries with Buddhist majorities, African countries such as Sudan,Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya and other countries where Arabic culture exists.From the beginning, in Afghanistan there is no general comprehension of mentalproblems (Mehraby, 2017). In this region an individual iseither ‘healthy or mad’ (Mehraby, 2017). In culturesoutside of Western culture, psychological problems are often expressed from theparenthesis of somatic complaints which include; headaches, backaches andstomach-aches.

This is an acceptable way to express distress in many non-Westerncultures where psychological problems are stigmatising, and sufferers riskbeing labelled ‘mad’ (Mehraby, 2017). In many cultures which believe inKarma, an example being Vietnam; mental illness is seen as a form of punishmentfor which the suffers may have sinned in a previous life. Buddhist ideals aresimilar to those who believe in Karma in that mental illness is also defined asa punishment for one’s, or their family’s misdeeds. Further east, exploring theview of mental illness in Japan; it is often associating with undesirable formsof weakness in an individual. Before mental illness was even represented asdeviant behaviour, Indian culture, pertinent before the 17C ‘viewed all abnormalbehaviour’ to be acts of the ‘devil’. Taking into account Arab cultures,traditionally individual’s erratic or deviant behaviour is seen to be in linewith their own or their family’s failure to uphold social values, norms orexpectations (Mehraby, 2017). It is important to ascertain that to this daymental illness in cultures outside of the West is still viewed within a spiritualor religious framework; this significantly impacts individuals abilities toaccess support in terms of mental health services or any support frameworkoutside of their own close family and friends, who as aforementioned, can oftenbe sceptical and judgemental of the mental illnesses themselves.

 InWestern culture mental illness has primarily been associated with deviantbehaviour, as associated with criminality; “in the west, mental illness is often associated with criminals, rapistsand serial killers portraying a discriminatory picture of sufferers asunpredictable, violent and aggressive” (Mehraby, 2017). In various societies, poormental health and mental illness is often associated with deviance; as proposedand evidenced by


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