How to Meditate Mindfully and its Impact on Mental Health

How to Meditate Mindfully and its Impact on Mental Health

“To meditate is to live simply and honestly in the world as it is,” Jonathan C. Smith.

With increased awareness about the importance of meditation and mindfulness there have been multiple online applications that have been launched. The following are just a few examples of the Best Meditation Apps of 2018 according to,, The Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm, and MINDBODY. The best part about these apps is that they are a finger’s touch away.

If you do not prefer to use technology to mediate you can borrow meditation books from the library or attend yoga or other workout events that are hosted at local libraries, community centers or gyms. These options are usually free of charge. But the main take away is to try and find time for yourself to meditate and focus on your overall wellbeing. 

Pause. You are already here, why not try some mindfulness? 

Here is a basic meditation for beginners guide from

  1. Get comfortable and prepare to sit still for a few minutes. After you stop reading this you are going to simply focus on your own natural inhaling and exhaling. 
  2. Focus on your breath. Find where you breath the most.
  3. Follow your breath for two minutes. Inhale and exhale …

Hopefully that short exercise was able to help you focus on your breathing and practice mindfulness. 

Now that you have been provided with a small introduction on what tools you need to start meditation here is some literature on the effectiveness of meditation and what progress has been made:

The World Health Organization has a comprehensive mental health plan. 

“The action plan calls for changes. It calls for a change in the attitudes that perpetuate stigma and discrimination that have isolated people since ancient times, and it calls for an expansion of services in order to promote greater efficiency in the use of resources.”

Breaking Taboo has taken that step for change. Breaking Taboo is a nonprofit organization that aims to break the stereotype, or taboo, surrounding Mental Health and Suicide. Our intention is to educate, share, and encourage open conversations about this topic. We believe that in order to solve a problem, we must focus on the root cause. In order to save lives, we must kill the silence. In order to kill the silence we must break the taboo

Breaking Taboo is one of multiple organizations that have started taking an initiative to create change. Aside from taking initiative the next step is conducting research on what the effectiveness of meditation is on health. 

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has research that shows the effectiveness of meditation on health conditions such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders and pain. For anxiety, depression and insomnia, there was a 2014 literature review that suggested that mindfulness meditation programs show moderate evidence of improving anxiety and depression

Meditation and Psychiatry is being studied after millions of people are coming to the conclusion based on their personal experiences that meditation may enhance mental health. In order to understand how meditation might be therapeutic, investigators have to examine its effect on a variety of complex psychophysiological functions and behaviors. How does decreased stress and hypertension relate to decreased autonomic arousal or reactivity? The results of imaging studies show increased gray matter in areas associated with attention suggested neural plasticity (“the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life”) with meditation.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) “is a test that detects abnormalities in your brain waves, or in the electrical activity of your brain.” EEGs and other imaging studies have shown changes in EEG patterns and regional cerebral blood flow with meditation. McGee has conducted extensive research and his take away message is, “Despite the substantial literature suggesting meditation’s benefits for a variety of psychiatric and medical conditions and for enhancing wellbeing and functioning, questions remain regarding the nature of meditation’s efficacy due in part to methodological problems, limitations in study designs, and the need for further research.”

The beauty of meditation is that there are no safety concerns or side effects. The only limitation is if you have a physical limitation which is a discussion point with your primary care provider.  

~Jasneelam Kaur

Jasneelam Kaur, recently relocated to Los Angeles. Health educator, foodie and traveler, currently spending time enjoying the simple things in life.   

A Step Up in Mental Health Education

A Step Up in Mental Health Education

For too long mow, mental health in this nation has gone overlooked—by the government, by the media, and by schools.

And for the longest time, I have posed the question: what will it take for the leaders of this country to step up and deliver to schools a curriculum pertaining to a matter just as crucial to a person’s well-being as physical health? Are not mental health conditions just as incurable as cancer and just as harsh on the body and the spirit? A condition like Bipolar 1 Disorder, for example, consumes you whole. It is a debilitating, crippling disease. Depression can lead to death at any given random moment in a person’s life. The “risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population” and about “2/3 of the people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths.”

It is time to educate our nation. Education can lead to the prevention of suicide. Why? Because empathy evolved out of understanding can save lives.

On July 1, 2018, cries for mental health education being implemented into school curriculum were both heard and answered. Both the states of New York and Virginia have become “the first two states to enact laws requiring mental health education in schools.” CNN stated, “Virginia’s law mandates that mental health education be incorporated into physical education and health curricula for ninth- and 10th-graders.” New York law has gone a step further, implementing mental health into the curriculum for not only middle schools and high schools, but elementary schools as well.

Amidst all the school shootings and the suicides of two well-known celebrities just this past year – Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, and most recently the comedic actor Brody Stevens – it is a relief to know New York and Virginia are stepping up. 

According to CNN, New York law recognizes that mental health is an “integral part of our overall health and should be a part of health education in public schools.” This recognition doesn’t come as much of a surprise if one knew that back in 2015, the NY law had written that ‘90 percent of youth who die by suicide suffer from depression or another diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death’.” 

We must be proactive and follow New York and Virginia’s lead and equip school teachers with the education of mental health, or if that’s too complicated a task to master, bring in some specialists to teach these kids about one of the most troubling epidemics that has survived centuries and outlasted millions beyond millions of people. And for those struggling with their mental health, they will be given a better chance at seeking help before bad gets worse and worse gets unbearable.

Maybe if I had learned about mental health when I was 11, I would’ve realized when a good friend of mine began to struggle with depression and not decrypt her moodiness as strange and write her off as “unfun” to be around. She wouldn’t have had to suffer alone. 

Not only will bringing mental health education into our schools enlighten our students about the various mental conditions that exist, but that, paired with personal experiences shared by others, can help turn the tide, bringing struggling youth out of isolation and into a warm, supportive environment.

Teachers aware of the issues they face as educators in respect to mental health have the desire to bring the topic into the classroom but lack the resources to do so. Following an incident with one of her students, a special education teacher at a H.S. in Chesterfield County, VA realized “the…resources available to educators in her school and district…designed to help students who may be grappling with mental illness was…inadequate. The growing crisis around students’ mental health, and the scarcity of available care, has long been a concern of many educators and health professionals. Interest among lawmakers, however, is a relatively new trend, sparked primarily by the spate of mass shootings.” And instead of the government implementing a “systemic approach to helping students with their mental health issues”, they focus on “crisis response.” Perhaps if the government pushed schools to educate students about mental health to begin with, there would be a less amount of crises to respond to.

I’m not saying it would be an easy process—incorporating mental health education into school curriculum. For one, most educators don’t have a background in psychology. And the responsibility of being an educator itself is already taxing. Funds would be needed to go towards instructing educators about mental health and wellness. Teachers would need the extra time to learn about the subject—time they may not have with papers to grade and families of their own. Why not then make mental health education an additional certification an educator can earn on his or her own? So that those teachers who are certified in mental health education, just like those certified in literacy or special education, can teach a class solely centered upon mental health? Any education of the overlooked subject would be a vast improvement from the complete absence of the topic now.

Joe O’ Callagthan, the head of Stamford Public Schools social work department in Connecticut, helped lead a district-wide effort to overhaul the school’s mental health program “after three students from three different high schools took their own lives in 2014.” By 2017, the district “had expanded the number of evidence-based services for students from zero to four, implemented district-wide trauma and behavioral health training and supports for staff, and integrated community and state resources and services for students.” This program indicates a shift from reactive to proactive and with the progress the district claims to be making, it could very well encourage other school districts to follow suit.

Education on mental health, however, should not only fall on the shoulders of teachers and schools. Every child with a mental health issue needs a strong support group comprised of a parent, a teacher, and a mental health professional. But as loving a parent might be, he or she may not always be willing to explore the possibility of mental illness when it comes to his or her child. “Concerns about the stigma associated with mental illness, the use of certain medications…cost or logistical challenges of treatment might…prevent parents from seeking care for a child who has a suspected mental illness. Mental health-focused organizations like NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) strive to break that trend and open up the mental health dialogue. They offer free services, providing programs and classes to the public, educating and connecting people with mental illness and family members of people with mental illnesses, offering them the support they may not get elsewhere.

Breaking down walls and stressing the importance of mental health in the classroom and in the home could not only change a student’s outlook on life, it could save their life. It can empower a child to approach an adult about their problem, knowing they are not alone and that there is a way to fix whatever it is they are going through. Mental health education could mean prevention and eradicate the need for a rescue mission.

Theresa Nguyen, VP at Mental Health America, states, “We can’t wait until a student is at a crisis state. Like diabetes or cancer, you should never wait until stage 4 to intervene.” 

Crystal Lancaster

Crystal is an ambassador for Breaking Taboo and a public speaker for NAMI. She is also a writer and advocates awareness for mental illness through education, and to bring hope, inspiration, and empowerment to people of all ages living with debilitating mental disorders. She aims to show others that no matter how dark or painful the journey, a better life is always ahead.

The Time for Mental Health Education in Schools is Now

The Time for Mental Health Education in Schools is Now

Mental health. What does it mean to a twelve-year-old? It may very well mean nothing if he or she has never even heard of the topic. I know I hadn’t when I was that age. In fact, I wasn’t even aware mental illness truly existed, that there were diseases completely separate from physical illnesses like cancer, but equally as important to be aware of and as equally cruel and unforgiving to its host. To my twelve-year-old self, psychiatric hospitals were red brick institutions where they locked up the “crazy” people wrapped up in straight jackets. 

That mindset of mine ruled the 90’s. The 90’s. And all the while, with years passing, more and more people are getting diagnosed with some form of mental disorder, many refusing treatment. Suicide rates within the last 19 years have only been rising. In 2017, within the U.S. alone, there were 1.4 million suicide attempts. Adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 make up nearly 15% of suicide deaths in the nation with suicide being the second leading cause of death for people between ages 10 and 34. Overall, it is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2016, we saw “an estimated 3.1. million adolescents aged 12 to 17 [have] at least one major depressive episode,” and within the last several years, it has been suggested that children even as young as age three can suffer from depression.

The evidence is there. But most of the U.S. population has no knowledge of it. How can this be? The media won’t mention it. The only time mental health is even acknowledged is in commercial ads backed by pharmaceutical companies or in the wake of a mass shooting. It takes a crisis such as school shootings or the suicide of a mega-celebrity to shake things up, but when those events disappear from the headlines, the reality of the huge dilemma this nation faces is forgotten, and people continue to struggle in silence.

So why does mental health remain an untouched topic in so many classrooms across the U.S.? Why haven’t we pushed to bring it to center stage at a point in a child’s life when it is most critical? 

It has gotten to the point that “not knowing” is no longer a good enough excuse. Learning statistics shouldn’t be a reactive practice days after news spreads about a young person ending their own life. Enough incidents have happened in the last two years alone that should compel people to demand answers. To probe for data. To rally for solutions. 

The question must be asked. If those individuals who have committed suicide had access to the right resources and received support that is crucial for any person with a mental disorder’s survival, if the shame from stigma did not weigh them down and they were allowed to speak freely of their pain without fear of being judged or rejected, would these people be alive today? 

The reality is that if our youth learn about depression, anxiety, and the vast array of mental disorders that exist and have existed for centuries, they will be better equipped to recognize signs and symptoms in themselves or in others. Without solid knowledge, a lack of empathy is inevitable. Because we can’t empathize with that which we cannot comprehend. And with “44,000 Americans dying by suicide every year” and “60 percent of children and adolescents with depression not getting treatment,” people living with anxiety, depression, or some form of mental disorder are in dire need of empathy, now more than ever. Mental Health Education will give every young person the tools they need to break through the stigma surrounding mental health—a stigma that puts a wall between the pain one feels and their seeking of help. 

With adolescence, comes a great deal of pressure. Pressure from parents to do well in school, from your peers to fit in, be “cool”, advertise your life on social media. Cyber bullying is now more real and prevalent than ever. “After a series of high-profile suicides of teenagers who were reportedly bullied on various social networks.” In addition, “victimization of young people online has received an increasing level of scrutiny.” “Bullying can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, self-harm, and even death. It also increases the risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school,” states the Center for Disease Control. 

It doesn’t help that a young person’s hormones are running rampant and often times, he or she isn’t in tune with his or her own body, or even his or her own thoughts. Our youth need to be able to protect themselves, so a misunderstanding or harsh comment doesn’t bring them to the edge of their sanity. “Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but more cases are undetected and untreated,” states WHO. A dialogue needs to open up where people, both young and old, aren’t afraid to talk about their problems. Shared experiences could de-escalate intense thoughts and emotions. Simply knowing you are not alone in your pain can talk someone off the ledge. Being aware that people with a mental illness like you are leading happy and successful lives can offer the hope and encouragement a young person may need to push through a life that is at times both harsh and cruel.

At a time when social and traditional media expose youth to far more crises than they can handle or even comprehend, at a time when having depression makes you “weird”, “weak”, or unfit to handle life, when words like “bipolar” or “crazy” get thrown around like dodgeballs on a playground, it is no wonder the youth of today feel the tension no one seems to want to talk about. 

So let’s change the dialogue. Let’s stir up some chatter. Even if schools taught mental health one week out of an entire semester. That would be a start.

Mental health matters because the lives of people with mental illness matter. We need to teach students that it is OK to have a mental disorder. There is no shame in having one or being a friend to someone who has one. There is no guilt a human being should harbor. A mental disorder is an ailment beyond our control. And yet, it can be treated, and life can still be remarkable. The sooner we as a nation can get on track to tackling the problem of mental disorders and the suicide epidemic, the sooner our youth can start leading healthier lives, both physically and mentally.

~Crystal Lancaster

Crystal is an ambassador for Breaking Taboo and a public speaker for NAMI. She is also a writer and advocates awareness for mental illness through education, and to bring hope, inspiration, and empowerment to people of all ages living with debilitating mental disorders. She aims to show others that no matter how dark or painful the journey, a better life is always ahead.

What Is Breaking Taboo

What Is Breaking Taboo

Breaking Taboo is a nonprofit organization that aims to break the stereotype, or taboo, surrounding Mental Health and Suicide. Our intention is to educate, share, and encourage open conversations about this topic. We believe that in order to solve a problem, we must focus on the root cause. In order to save lives, we must kill the silence. In order to kill the silence we must break the taboo. 

A taboo is defined as a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing. 

We actively promote awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. Our mission is to educate and provide practical tools everyone can use including survival, step by step application, help, information, and resources. Tools that can save lives in times of crisis. Tools that people can take away with them to gain better mental health every day. Tools that inspire others to live a life without shame and frustration.

Someone in this country dies by suicide every 12 minutes. In fact, more people die from suicide than from conflict, wars and natural disasters combined. Mental health issues are often seen as things that can be easily fixed, or issues that people do not consider to be problems. That is simply not the truth.

Why not view mental health in the same way as physical health? Improving ourselves physically and getting help for our body is encouraged and promoted, whereas mental health issues are often shut down and shunned. Mental health is just as important as physical health. 

The taboo against mental health promotes shame, guilt, and secrecy. The taboo prevents people from speaking out, sharing, and getting help. That is why we are here to break that taboo. We are here to change, to bring that knowledge to the general public, to shift society’s thinking, to promote positive change that may significantly improve and save the lives of yourself and of others.

Doing this work isn’t easy! We need your help to Break the Taboo and save lives! Please donate to our cause!

Donate Now!

100% of your donations are tax deductible! Spread the word and save lives!

~Brook Bennett

When a Bad Day Gets a Little Longer

When a Bad Day Gets a Little Longer

I am a high school student, and I am fully versed in the world of mental illness and suicide. So many of my classmates have experienced mental health related problems, talk about them, and have shared their insights with me. The quotes used below are from just a few of the unbelievably strong people I know.

“How did it get this bad? This thought continued to tear away at me every day. The answer is simple; I held it in. I only told two of my friends. I was stupid, thinking that everything would be okay, that I could handle it all” -Belle A. (MN).

When you let the little things go, you let yourself go. Sometimes you can’t handle everything on your own, and that doesn’t make you weak. Asking for help is what makes us strong. “Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, it’s a means of survival” – Belle A. (MN).

Don’t wait until you’re scared. Don’t wait until you’re contemplating ending the wonderful life you have ahead of you.

“She doesn’t tell too many people how she feels, she’s afraid they will judge her. She cares more about what other people think than what she thinks of herself. Because she doesn’t want people to see her upset, so she puts on her mask. The real her hides behind the smile” -Chrissy H. (MN).

You are brave and you are strong. Don’t be ashamed of your struggles, it’s how we grow and become.. Well, us. “Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, it’s a means of survival”- Belle A. (MN). Don’t hesitate to get help when you need help, your mental health is bigger than what others think of you.

Most of the time we know when things are getting bad. Over 21.4% of adolescents experience an extreme mental health disorder. You are not alone. Belle and Chrissy, the beautiful writers quoted above, are just two out of many who worried that they waited too long.

Taking care of your mental health is more important than what others think of you….MENTAL HEALTH is bigger than what others think of you! It is time to break the stigma around mental health.

Last year our school lost two students related to mental health conditions, and that extreme loss, as Chrissy puts it eloquently, “opened the eyes of many students towards the lack of communication around mental health. Sadly the school failed to do anything to change its ways” – Chrissy H. (MN). This is nothing to be said about schools, or even people, but the lack of education about mental health.

These students should have been able to reach out for help, and to try to address the problems before they took over. So until the whole world knows how to help, what should we do?

Don’t sit back and watch things crumble. Whether it be your life, your friend’s, your mother’s, or your lover’s… You can help.

How to help before it gets scary?

Talk to your friends. No, your best friend is not a therapist. But friends, are well, just that. Your friends, a built in support system. Talking to friends is a great first step, they will help talk you through the hard parts, and may even help you reach out to someone else. Which brings us into our next step…

Talk to a trusted adult. This sounds cheesy, like something you learn in elementary school. But honestly, it’s the right way to get your challenges out in the open. The worst thing to do is hide and feel like you’re alone, that you’re fighting alone. 

Talk to a professional. The most important step, if you worry your inner thoughts are doing more than just bringing your mood down every once in awhile, you should seek help. This doesn’t make you weak, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed of or ashamed for.

“Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, it’s a means of survival” -Belle A. (MN).

Here are just some of the ways that I have found that can help you let off steam, center yourself, and be happy. Maybe it’s best to train yourself to handle bad situations in other ways. But, here is a list of relaxing and safe behaviors to get in the habit of distracting yourself from the daily turmoils we all are facing:

● Read

● Write

● Paint

● Go for a walk

● Take a bath

● Play with a child or an animal

● Take a nap

● Hug someone

● Say 100 things you love about yourself, OUTLOUD!!

● Journal

● Play a game

● Exercise

● Cook

● Go on an adventure

No matter what you do, take care of YOU. You are the most important person that you will ever know. Without you, the world won’t be the same. You are unique and wanted and loved and beautiful and smart and kind. You are worth it. If you feel like you’ve passed the point of small acts of helping, please reach out to a suicide or mental health hotline, your family, or a professional right away. You can make it out of the dark, because there truly is light at the end of a dark tunnel.

~Reagan Alexander

A high school student committed to breaking the taboo at her school and throughout the world.

Cultural Perspectives on Mental Health Taboo

Cultural Perspectives on Mental Health Taboo

In September 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) [1] included Mental health in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The importance of mental health became recognized on a worldwide level. Our world leaders have recognized the importance of mental health awareness and are working on creating a positive impact on communities and countries in need. Despite these positive developments, mental health still remains a taboo in certain cultures around the world.

Some important terms and definitions to keep in mind:

  • Culture:the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.”
  • Culture-bound syndromes: “are sets of symptoms much more common in some societies than in others.”
  • Stigma: “defined as a mark of shame or discredit.”
  • Taboo: “a prohibition imposed by social custom or as a protective measure.”

Stigma is having a huge impact on mental health awareness and treatment. Currently clinicians are viewing the issue as “culture counts” [2]. The culture and beliefs of the clinician can impact how they interact with a person coming in for mental health services. Even deeper is the issue of the various beliefs and culture of the person needing mental health services. 

When looking at different cultures, it is important to understand their backgrounds, to understand their history. If a culture has been oppressed, they are used to a certain way of living. If a culture has a strong influence on health and wellbeing they may have already understood and be practicing the importance of mental health wellness. 

Starting off within the Western or American culture there is often a distinction made between mind and body [2]. In today’s day and era there is the beginnings to an effort being made to acknowledge the importance of mental health awareness. From the Surgeon General addressing the issue to it being implemented in workplaces. The cultural taboo is being fought back.

Source A, an administrator coordinator, who associates herself with American culture, does not believe mental health is a taboo in her culture anymore. “We are able to talk to people about our issues and use various means to alleviate mental health issues,” stated Source A. (Source A asked not to be listed by name due to it being taboo at her workplace to publish their personal opinions in public spaces since they represent the workplace.) Source A also shared that her “family believes in utilizing medication to alleviate mental health issues while she focused on dietary habits and exercise as well as therapy to help solve her mental health issues.” She finds it to be the most effective. While this particular viewpoint shows a positive advancement in how mental health is viewed in American culture, it is unfortunately not indicative of how everyone in America currently views mental health. There is still a long way to go in breaking the taboo.

In certain Asian cultures mental illness is highly stigmatized. Having a mental illness is related with having a poor family background and influences the potential of marriage into a certain family. Literature shows that Chinese Americans have more somatic complaints of depression than African American or white [3]. 

Rahul Bains, an IT Manager with an East Indian background, also shared his viewpoint from his culture. He agrees mental health is a taboo in Eastern India and feels people do not take mental health illness as a serious health issue that can be cured. “In our families, mental health issues are often associated with other issues and the families try to resolve other issues first and consider the mental issues will be taken care of as well. In so many cases, they relate mental health issues as a result of bad deeds “karma”, religion or something supernatural. This leads to religious “treatments” and if it is not treatable then they say it’s God’s wish,” explained Rahul. 

Coming from an East Asian background myself I have seen the social stigma that is attached to mental illness. From my experience, people are not educated about mental illness and the various forms of it which leads to the social stigma. Because of the lack of mental health education, they have a lack of vocabulary to describe their emotions. I have seen my grandma go through a difficult time and her stating she is upset, and her mood is not right but that is the extent of emotions she has described to me. I have seen other family members need mental health counseling, but they have waved it off because of what will people think and not wanting to share secrets. 

Nancy Tang, a Clinical Nurse Specialist, is a first generation Chinese American shared her experience with me. She shared about mental health definitely being taboo in the Chinese culture. “People don’t like to talk about it at all even though they know it is a concern,” stated Nancy. She related back to her family and shared that they are “not open to seeking psych evaluations or treatments. Even though it was clear that I had family members that needed it or could benefit from it.” Nancy also shared that mental health is regressing in her culture due to the glamourized stereotype of how people should be living. 

The Hispanic culture has a lot of culture-bound syndromes which are important to identify before and while treating and diagnosing mental illnesses. For example, they believe in the mal de ojo (evil eye) and susto (fright) [4]. The value in understanding these culture- bound syndromes helps with better understanding the need for mental health education/ prevention/ treatment. 

Common mental health disorders among Latinos are generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcoholism [9]. The most common diagnosis I have heard from the Latino population is them describing symptoms of depression as “nervios” (nervousness) [9]. Despite these issues, the Latino community does not talk about mental health issues for fear of being labeled as “locos” (crazy) [9]. Other factors that contribute to the associate are privacy concerns, language barriers, lack of health insurance, misdiagnosis and even legal status. 

As of 2017, there are currently 567 federally- recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes; they are culturally diverse and speak more than 200 languages [5]. In the American Indian culture, there is a lack of vocabulary to describe such words as “depressed” and “anxious.” Not only is there a language barrier but also a cultural difference of how to express distress and unhappiness. Although the Census shows a significant increase and those identifying themselves as American Indian there is a lack of studies that have been conducted [7]. Adults are not the only ones being affected, American Indian and Alaskan Native children and adolescents have the highest rates of lifetime major depressive episodes and highest self-reported depression rates than any other ethnic/racial group [5].

As previously mentioned, there have not been many studies about Native American attitudes regarding mental health and mental illness. In the Native American culture, there is a worldview that surrounds the notions of connectedness, reciprocity, balance and completeness that creates structure for their views of health and well-being [8]. Studying this experience may help lead to finding the fundamental aspects of psychological and social well-being and the mechanisms for their maintenance [8].

Currently the stigma and taboo are there in every culture, in one form or another. The question is what is the best way to address the issue? Education or preventative measures? What is the culture in question open to? Can we cross that language barrier to help create the needed vocabulary?

~Jasneelam Kaur

Recently relocated to Los Angeles. Health educator, foodie and traveler, currently spending time enjoying the simple things in life.