This weekend is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, and while perhaps the link between mental health and cultural diversity is not immediately obvious, there is an important relationship between cultural identity and how we view ourselves.
Culture is many things: traditions and customs passed down through generations, language, religion, creative arts, sports and media, the civilisations we have built. The common theme across all of these is the sense of community that culture provides, the shared ideas and experiences: a tribe to which we can belong. This connection is vital to human existence - Maslo’s Hierarchy of Needs lists belongingness and love as the third need that motivates and drives humans. To feel a bond with others, to share interests and history, is key to feeling secure and whole in ourselves.
Feeling isolated from others who support us or are going through the same things as us means we don’t get that feeling of reward and mutual understanding that comes from being part of a community. It can affect our self-esteem, and sense of self-worth, which can ultimately impact our wider mental health.
The World Day for Cultural Diversity celebrates the richness of the world’s cultures, and focuses on respect and understanding of the differences between us as a means to leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional and moral life. By appreciating the differences and similarities between cultures, we can forge greater connections which can positively influence our mental wellbeing.