Consultant to New Nation
Discuss Psychological Well-Being and Psychological Distress Policy Recommendation
Consultant to New Nation: Psychological Well-Being and Psychological Distress Policy Recommendation
Recent years continue to witness an increasing number of nations and political leaders moving towards prioritization of their citizens’ psychological wellbeing. Examples of nations that focus on the promotion of psychological wellbeing are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Venezuela, and Bhutan (Ribeiro, Costa, & Remondes, 2020). This paper provides a policy recommendation informed by knowledge and experience of a psychological consultant to a newly identified nation. The areas covered in this paper are discussed in three parts including influences on wellbeing and happiness, influences on psychological disorders and distress, and policy recommendations to minimize or reduce psychological distress.
Part 1: Happiness and Well-Being
Culture plays a vital role in the comprehension of psychopathology and personality, which it turn influence happiness and wellbeing (Draguns & Tanaka-Matsumi, 2003).Three cultural factors that influence wellbeing and happiness are collectivism verses individualism, gender egalitarianism, and power distance. Individualism dominates Western nations in America and Europe. In these cultures, people emphasize the pursuit of individual positive emotions, individual achievement, and individual freedom. Therefore, the relationships between individual achievement and individual effort and subjective wellbeing are more direct, thereby leading to higher happiness levels (Ye, Ng & Lian, 2015). In collective cultures such as China and Japan, individuals emphasize human relationships including neighbors, families, and colleagues. Institutional Collectivism (INC) is an aspect of collectivism and individualism that influence happiness. INC reflects the level at which the institutions of a society favor collectivism against autonomy. As such, INC emphasizes social support, which results in happiness and wellbeing.
Gender egalitarianism (GEI) involves the magnitude at which a society limits differences in gender roles. Societies associated with higher GEI grant women extra space to regulate their life and this increased subjective wellbeing and happiness within the entire society (Ye et al., 2015). On the other hand, masculine societies are associated with higher job stress, which negatively impact happiness and wellbeing. In societies with higher GEI, women possess more options in social roles, thereby resulting to higher self-assessed levels of health including lower sickness rates and lower drug usage, thereby leading to improved wellbeing and happiness (Ye et al., 2015). Power distance (PDI) involves the extent to which individuals anticipate and agree that power or authority should be unequally shared. Societies or nations associated with large power distance are often characterized by inequalities between individuals. Ye et al. (2015) assert that such inequalities could result in individuals feeling that they are subjects of forces beyond their might or control, which in turn negatively impacts wellbeing. According to Ye et al. (2015), the existence of a large PDI in nations is often accompanied by inequalities within work organizations and other areas such as prestige and status, civil rights, and wealth.
Adequate comprehension of the cultural influences of collectivism and individualism, PDI, and GEI is significant in improving national wellbeing. For instance, by comprehending the aspects of collectivism and individualism, a nation’s wellbeing can be improved by developing measures aimed at promoting happiness such as social supports and institution of awards that acknowledge individual accomplishments. Such an undertaking also enables a nation to respect cultural practices such as community celebrations of togetherness, which in turn improves overall wellbeing of the nation. Understanding the aspect of PDI enables a nation to eradicate power issues that encourage inequalities in places of work and neighborhoods, which in turn enables such a nation to establish measures aimed at promoting equality. As a result, the overall happiness and wellbeing of the nation is improved, as suggested by Ye et al. (2015). Adequate understanding of the aspect of GEI provides a nation with an insight into issues that negatively impact wellbeing and happiness such as differences in gender roles and gender discrimination against women in work places and other areas of their social life. As a result, a nation can develop robust measures for addressing issues such as gender inequality, which in turn can lead to the improvement of the nation’s wellbeing.
Part 2: Psychological Distress and Disorder
Somatization, coping styles, and family factors are among the cultural aspects that influence psychological distress and disorder. As a fundamental experience, somatization entails a fundamental distinction in the manner in which depressive symptoms are witnessed or experienced (Ryder et al., 2002). In this situation, the actual experience of the patient mainly involves the body, and in certain circumstances, even to the elimination of psychological symptoms (Ryder et al., 2002). As a result, thorough evaluation and recurring contact will flesh out the clinical picture of the patient without disclosing previously hidden psychological symptoms (Ryder et al., 2002). Chinese patients largely report somatic features associated with depression. However, mental illnesses, especially those associated with overt behavioral pathology, are stigmatized within Chinese societies (Ryder et al. (2002). As such, individuals tend to shy away from seeking medical assistance when confronted with such mental illnesses.
According to Hwang et al. (2008), culture bears a significant impact on mental health by influencing help-seeking pathways and coping styles. When it comes to coping styles and culture, it is vital to note that culture relates to how individuals cope with routine problems as well as more extreme forms of adversity. For example, certain Asian American factions tend not to focus on upsetting thoughts, as they believe that avoidance or reticence is better than open expression (Office of the Surgeon General, 2001). These groups highly emphasize suppression of affect, with some of them tending to commence by depending on themselves to cope with psychological distress. African Americans have a tendency of embracing an active approach in confronting personal issues, as opposed to avoiding them and depending more spirituality to assist them to cope with mental illness symptoms and adversity (Office of the Surgeon General, 2001).
Family factors also possess different influences on psychological distress and disorder across different cultures. For instance, studies shows that when it comes to the Mexican-American families, relationships or interactions featuring lack of warmth and distance predicted relapse for persons with schizophrenia better than relationships featuring criticism (Lopez et al., 1998). On the contrary, for the whites interactions featuring absence of warmth and distance did not predict relapse for schizophrenic individuals better than relationships featuring criticisms (Lopez et al., 1998).
Family factors, coping styles, and somatization are critical to improving national wellbeing owing to various reasons. According to Lopez et al. (1998), many family life features including etiology possess a bearing on mental illness and mental health. When it comes to etiology, family influences can contribute to or safeguard against the risk of having a mental illness. For instance, good sibling relationships and supportive families serve as safeguards against the development of mental illness (Lopez et al., 1998). On the other hand family settings characterized overcrowding, sexual abuse, child abuse, social disadvantage, and severe discord can contribute to the inception of mental illness (Lopez et al., 1998). Therefore, comprehending family factors provides an opportunity to ensure national wellbeing by developing policies that can address conditions that contribute to mental disorders. When it comes to coping styles, the wellbeing of a nation can be ensured by developing measures aimed at enhancing the ability of different racial groups to cope with mental distress including recreational facilities for Asian-Americans and promotion of spirituality for African-Americans. Adequate comprehension of the aspect of somatization enables the government to understand the role of issues such as stigma in contributing to psychological disorder and distress such as neurasthenia, and develop robust measures of contributing to a nation’s wellbeing by eradicating stigma and other related issues.
Part 3: Policy Recommendation
Adler and Seligman (2016) emphasize the role of policy in ensuring nation’s wellbeing. In relation to this, the first policy recommendation for reducing psychological distress in the new nation is the implementation of robust laws that prohibit stigma and encourage educational campaigns targeting stigma. Having such a policy will contribute effectively to the eradication of stigma against mental illnesses including neurasthenia, thereby elimination psychological distress.
The second policy recommendation for limiting psychological distress in the novel nation should be the enactment of laws for that promote financial empowerment and sensitization of families on support of other family members. This policy will contribute to the elimination of family related issues such as social disadvantage, overcrowding, and severe discord, which contribute to mental illness. The third policy should be the imposition of strict punishment to family members charged with all forms of abuse to family members and children. Family-related conditions such as child abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse contribute to psychological distress (Lopez et al., 1998).
The first policy recommendation for ensuring the psychological wellbeing of the novel nation should be the implementation of robust laws aimed at eradicating gender inequalities and abolishing any form of gender discrimination in workplaces and other areas of social life. Implementing such a policy will enable the disadvantaged groups such as women to have extra space to regulate their life and this will increase their subjective wellbeing and happiness within the entire society as suggested by Ye et al. (2015). The second policy implementation should be the enactment of laws that acknowledge and promote cultural practices of togetherness. Such an undertaking is in line with cultures that revere collectivism and thus promoting a culture of togetherness will promote the nation’s wellbeing as suggested by Ye et al. (2015). The third policy recommendation for the new nation’s psychological wellbeing is the enactment of policies that focus on the elimination of all forms of economic and social inequalities. These forms of inequalities, particularly in societies with higher PDI, often impact wellbeing and happiness in a negative manner (Ye et al., 2015).
This paper has effectively provided a policy recommendation based on the experience and knowledge of a psychological consultant. Adopting the policy recommendations provided in this paper will contribute significantly to enhancing the psychological wellbeing of citizens within the newly established nation.
Adler, A., & Seligman, M. E. (2016). Using wellbeing for public policy: Theory, measurement, and recommendations. International Journal of Wellbeing, 6(1).
Draguns, J. G., & Tanaka-Matsumi, J. (2003). Assessment of psychopathology across and within cultures: Issues and findings. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 41(7), 755–776.
Hwang, W., Myers, H. F., Abe-Kim, J., & Ting, J. Y. (2008). A conceptual paradigm for understanding culture’s impact on mental health: The cultural influences on mental health (CIMH) model. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(2), 211–227. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2007.05.00.
Lopez, S. R., Nelson, K. A., Polo, J. A., Jenkins, J., Karno, M., & Snyder, K. (1998, August) Family warmth and the course of schizophrenia of Mexican Americans and Anglo Americans. Paper presented at the International Congress of Applied Psychology, San Francisco, CA.
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