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Mental Illness in Korean and Asian Children

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Families are also contributing to the problem by the lack of education regarding mental health, combined with fact that parents do not even want to hear that their children may have a problem.   As mentioned, the attitude that a child will simply grow out of such a condition is a major problem.   Individuals do not grow out of mental illness in fact, early childhood identification of the condition leads to therapies and behavior modifications that mitigate the symptoms.   The fact that many Koreans tend to seek medical solutions for the problems to which they will admit could allow for pharmacological treatment, but denial by the family does not even permit this assistance.   As any healthcare professional will advise for particular conditions, e.g. , depression, it is impossible for individuals to “ bootstrap” themselves beyond the illness.   The individual can no more think or act their way out of clinical depression than they can cancer.   It is a medical condition which needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as symptoms set in; all waiting does is prolong the suffering of the individual and increase the severity of the symptoms.   In the typical Korean family, the pressure from adults can make things even worse by causing the individual to have feelings of guilt, pressure, isolation, and violation of their parents’ expectations.   This cohesion is derived from a variety of historical influences, not the least of which is Confucianism and Shamanism.     The central pillar of Confucianism is the family.

Indeed, family cohesion and continuity are taken as the foundation for sustaining the human community and the state (Park & Cho, 1995, p. 117).   As a result of the family taking on the stigma associated with mental illness, the subject is repressed and ignored.   With the cultural setup, enforced by the lack of government intervention and social programs, issues of mental health go unaddressed.   Were government policy to change, and the system provided the necessary philosophy and social programs, families would begin to feel free to discuss and address the issues.

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