Mental Health Stigmatizing in East Asia


There are various explanations and descriptions about the denouncement of mentally ill people. Those affected undergo stigma and discrimination due to misperceptions, lack of awareness, and education about the disorder, which, as a result, impact the treatment and recovery process. This research aims at establishing why there is mental stigmatization in East Asia and how South Korea has addressed issues associated with mental illness compared to Japan.

Mental Health Stigmatization in East Asia

Stigmatization is generally a frame of mind on the disapprobation of people with mental disorders. These conditions are rampant in Asia, but the medication given to some of the patients is not enough (Zhang et al., 2020). Individuals with mental illness are considered threatening and belligerent, which makes others distant from them. They also emphasize supernatural powers, religion, and the magic to deal with curing mental illness. Taking care of the patients is highly faced with doubt on the health care services and how the treatment is administered. Additionally, the disgrace emanating from the family members is prevalent.

Moreover, the social distance and avoiding families with mentally ill individuals are of great concern. This is experienced mostly in marriage leading to marital separation and divorce at some point. Paranormal signs and symptoms, unlike the corporeal, are interpreted to bring limitations on the side of socializing. This causes the stigmatization of people with mental illnesses to become high in East Asia. The main challenge facing mental health care in this region is the shortage or complete lack of personnel and the resources to boost the sector (Zhang et al., 2020). This is made more difficult for those in rural areas to access treatment since most specialists are located in urban areas. Furthermore, some of the experts have an attitude, which is stigmatizing to people with the illness.

Consequently, minimal knowledge of the elements affecting the mental health of the people living in East Asia is present. Stigmatization takes center stage and acts as a barrier that hinders the people suffering from mental illness in the Asian community from seeking medication. An evaluation was carried out to identify the stigmatization against some identities, and the outcome indicated that stigma salience was the only stigma that could provide depression and anxiety signs and symptoms in the Asian community (Pishori et al., 2015). Anticipated ethnic discrimination and Asian values significantly predicted depression and anxiety.

Several studies have established that some of the East Asian people found in North America do not utilize mental health services available even when faced with a high degree of affliction. A study by Na et al. (2016) outlined the most probable method for the plans to upgrade the number of people seeking mental health care services. There are techniques of ensuring that Asians use mental health services available, which include removing language stigma and barriers, improving cultural competency, counseling, and provision of affordable services.

Mental illness has a deleterious impact on the general health and well-being of an individual. To address stigmatization, there is a need to involve everybody, ensure social justice prevails, and include sections of the socio-cultural determinants in the mental health services. There are three ways of examining how stigmatization among Asian men living in Toronto can be reduced: psychological education, Contact-based Empowerment Education (CEE), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) (Fung et al., 2020). Moreover, these methods can be combined for better results and social change. Some of the disparities indicate that CEE can be more reliable in lowering mental illness stigmatization, while the ACT is good for clearing internal stigmatization (Fung et al., 2020). A lot needs to be put into place to explain the processes that add to the sociocultural-informed mental illness stigma interventions in communities made of many races and disparaged groups of people.

Why South Korea Has Made More Progress than Japan in Acknowledging Mental Health Problems

In both South Korea and Japan, people with mental illness suffer from stigma together with their families. Society avoids associating with the sick person and their household. However, in South Korea, the government enacted laws prohibiting workplace discrimination against those with mental health disorders. Moreover, South Korea has progressed since it has affordable healthcare services through universal health coverage, readily available medication, lots of well-trained psychiatrists and mental health experts, and protection for the mentally ill. Research has been beneficial in acknowledging and handling psychological disorders as shown below.

Hyun et al. (2017) examined mothers who had adults and children registered as mentally ill patients in the Mental Health Centre of K Province in South Korea. These people felt ashamed, guilty, disregarded, socially weak, and segregated themselves from any social group, suffering in isolation. The study aids in discovering the stigmatization that family members experience and developing ways on how to help them, as well as the ill people.

Another research was carried out to create a verifiable categorization of how old Koreans socialized, evaluate its impact on both their physical and mental health, and ways of providing aid to those affected (Park et al., 2018). A total of six thousand nine hundred aged adults were taken as the sample to carry out the evaluation. This sample was taken from the 2014 South Korean national elderly tally. Profile analysis was implemented to find different social networks by utilizing eight features of a social network. These features include marriage status, social activities, how often one meets with close allies, contact with relatives and family members, and how frequently one receives visitors at his or her home. The outcomes indicated that the restricted ones were at a high risk of suffering from mental illness, which draws attention to the structural and non-structural facets of social distancing. With these data received from the research, South Korea can manage the mental-related problems because they already have the details of the affected individuals. This makes the treatment of the disorders manageable, which reduces the many effects brought about by the disease.

Additionally, Kim et al. (2015) used data collected from different individuals in South Korea to analyze the relationship between stigmas, self-esteem, hopelessness, and societal interactions. They found that high levels of internal stigmatization are likely to be caused by low self-esteem, lack of hope, and conflict with one social variable or factor. Patients need to be supported, and their morale boosted to curb the internalized condemnation.

South Korea’s mental health services are grouped into three categories. The first group is based on the financing source, which includes operational and social facilities under the national government. The second is community-based, run by the local and central government, and lastly, is the improvement in mental illness awareness under the central government. As research shows, the central government budget has increased its support of psychological wellbeing by doubling its budget (Roh et al 2016). The human resource under mental health services has intensive training on mental health. For example, the nurses undergo an additional year of training on mental health after their graduation. Also, South Korea has systems on research and development that deal with mental health-related illnesses. However, South Korea lacks an organization to supervise and systematically organize mental health as Japan’s National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, which deals with the study of mental health and neurological disorder (Roh et al., 2016). Therefore, South Korea must establish a center for national mental health with sound policies to aid research and acquisition of scientific evidence and monitoring for efficiency.

Japan has made an effort to refine its mental health care system. Despite this, those with psychiatric disorders in Japan do not seek help even when services are accessible. Stigmatization is deep-rooted in the society as part of the culture with negativity towards the mentally ill people, including adverse media coverage, opposition to the building of mental health facilities, and increased suicide rates (Kikuzawa et al., 2019). As a result, those affected resort to self-management, which hinders treatment to avoid being labeled as having a weak personality. To make the mental health care system effective, institutional and societal homogeneity should be addressed and the public educated on the causes and treatment of psychological conditions.

Doing work more than the body is supposed to do is among the factors behind the many mental issues experienced in Japan. Utilizing the data acquired from some of the Japanese workers over four years, the research aimed at establishing the number of hours one was occupied and the features of the job being done (Kuroda & Yamamoto, 2016). The working environment, which is considered one of the major factors that affect the employees making them suffer psychologically was also considered. The results point to the fact that working for prolonged hours causes a decline in mental health despite taking control of personal sequel and other factors. Additionally, the connection between working hours and mental health is not balanced. Working for more than fifty hours per week has adverse physical effects.

Furthermore, a clear outlining of the duties to be undertaken, the strength involved, and the working environment have a high level of influence on the workers after control of operating time. If a coworker has been affected by mental illness at work, there is a likelihood that the well-being of the colleagues is also not in good condition. The outcome indicates that acceptable office practices, including the management, will automatically upgrade the workers’ mental health (Kuroda & Yamamoto, 2016). Japan should be in a position to evaluate its employees and have sound workplace policies. It would be essential to examine job stress in workplaces, which will aid in the prevention of mental illness. Depression is a major factor that causes loss of work because, in most cases, it leads to mental disorders (Jeon & Kim, 2018). Therefore, it is advisable to evaluate stress, as highlighted in the job setting. Moreover, there is a need to have tools to assess stress-related sicknesses in professions.


Mental illness is a problem that has affected many people; however, different countries have specific ways of coping and treating the condition. South Korea examines several persons, then concludes what is affecting them, and remedies to the problems. Finally, individuals who have mental disorders and their families undergo a lot of suffering and segregation because not many people in society like to associate with them.


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PsychologyWriting. "Mental Health Stigmatizing in East Asia." September 14, 2023.