Last Thursday, Stacie Leap, Jeff Shair, Frank Dietrick and Sterling Johnson from Mental Health Partnerships visited our class to share their own stories related to mental health and recovery.
I was particularly interested in Stacie’s story because of the role her Cambodian background played in her struggles with addiction and mental health. She said that while growing up, parties and celebrations were part of her family life. She began smoking weed and drinking alcohol at an early age because of this. Substance use and party culture became the norm for her and those in her social circle. Stacie said her best friend, brother, and cousin all died from overdoses. This made me realize how hard it must be to recognize that you’re struggling with addiction when everyone around you is doing the same thing.
Stacie also said her Asian background impacted her mental health recovery in that she did not have her family accessible as a support system. Her mother stopped talking to her when she said she suffered from depression. In some Asian cultures, mental health issues are believed to be the result of bad karma from a past life. Her mother thought she was possessed. I can’t imagine what this experience must have been like, and I think examining the unique struggles people face in recovery due to ethnic and cultural backgrounds is an interesting avenue to explore within future reporting.