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Mental Health in Different Colors

Posted on: Thursday, August 11th, 2011

At Journey Counseling Calgary our client population is very diverse. Not only are our clients very different, but I also believe that I bring diversity to the counseling team. I have been blessed to work with people from diverse backgrounds including, new immigrants to Canada, children and youth with developmental disabilities, First Nations people and other minority groups.  I have come to understand mental health in many ways.

There are varieties of understandings about what constitutes normality regarding a person’s mental health, causes of mental illness and/or anything that deviates from ideal mental health. For example, from a Euro-centric perspective, in general terms, illness is caused by pathogens or deficiency/imbalance of ‘physical’ matter (body chemicals, cells, tissues or organs).

Other cultures may view the concept of illness differently. For instance, in my opinion, First Nations people may view illness as a result of an imbalance among spiritual, emotional, physical and mental parts of an individual. Thus, in this view, healing must take into account the whole person (his/her psyche, spirit, mind and emotions). However, some people believe that of all the above, having a ‘good’ spirit is the essence of mankind and without spiritual force(s), a person is likely to develop a mental illness. Such views do surface in my counseling work. I work with all individuals regardless of their worldview. My main goal is not to debate worldviews but to meet individuals’ needs so as he/she can become a better person; I mean mentally healthy!

Tobias Mwandala, MSW, RSW [Counsellor]

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