The Role of Cultural Values in Shaping Mental Health Related Attitudes: A Cross- Cultural Study
Although there are efficacious treatments, many individuals who have mental illnesses either do not finish their treatment course or do not seek treatment at all. A primary reason for this is thought to be the stigma that exists around mental health. There is variability in this stigma around the world. This research had three goals. First, we aimed to examine group differences in attitudes toward mental health by comparing Russians, Russian Americans, and Americans. Second, we aimed to understand whether cultural values are related to attitudes toward mental health by examining collectivism, individualism, and support preferences. Finally, we aimed to examine whether these cultural values explain the group differences in attitudes toward mental health. The questions were addressed by a two-part study involving a questionnaire and an interview. Results showed that Russians and Americans were more likely to attribute mental health problems as medical problems and to endorse seeking help for mental health problems compared to Russian Americans. While we did not find any group differences in collectivism or individualism, Russians preferred emotional support more than Russian Americans with Americans falling between the two groups. Finally, across all three groups, individualism was related to more personal mental health stigma and less endorsement of seeking support for mental health problems. These findings suggest that cultural values are important factors to be considered when understanding attitudes toward mental health and designing interventions that increase utilization of mental health services.