Mental Conditions and Treatments Across the Globes: Are They Different?



My name is Soren Saggi, and I go to Gilman School. Throughout all my years in school, I’ve always had one friend who suffered from depression. His behavior towards life seemed pessimistic and apathetic towards ideas that seemed so essential. It was my experience with him that inspired me to help him and other like him overcome their personal conflicts. However, in order for me to accomplish my goal, I will have to recognize that different countries treat mental conditions in different yetefficient ways. Thus, I will also have to examine how other countries view and treat mental conditions for my project to succeed.


The problem with treatments around the world is that each individual culture only highlights one aspect for the cause of the disorder. For instance, this is especially seen in North America, Europe, and Africa.

In the US, most psychiatrists follow the DSM-5 manual, which provides the symptoms in which to diagnose a patient. The DSM-5 would say that “grief, painful feelings come in waves…feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.” This understanding of depression is limited to a general spectrum of emotions. Furthermore, it pertains to only a biological analysis rather than one that directly relates back to the patient’s experiences and emotions. An example would be Daniel Epstein, who relayed his own experiences. In his experience, he said:

“I dance. A lot. I do it because I understand the neurological benefits and enjoy the feeling. Dopamine is more than the ‘good feeling’ chemical. It’s also helping regulate my mood, sleep, cognition and behavior.”

As an example of how to handle depression as an American, it emphasizes the biological aspect, just like the DSM-5 manual. Therefore, America’s perspective revolves around mastering biological components. The stigma from this arises in the fact that we forget that patients are more than their condition. Rather, they too are people that can change and evolve.

In other locations across the planet however, each disorder does not seem to be confined to the words within this book. For instance, Europe, according to the WHO website, seemingly differs in how they understand mental conditions. In respect to suicide, which often includes depression, the WHO/Europe website states:

“In high-income countries, 3.5 males commit suicide for every female. Yet in low and middle-income countries in Europe the suicide rate is as high as 4.1 males for every female. Suicide accounts for 17.6% of all deaths among young adults aged 15-29 in high-income countries. It is ranked the second leading cause of death globally and in Europe among this age group, following road traffic accidents.”

This whole account reflects upon the socio-economic status and age of an individual rather than the “American” biological aspects. A woman named Krista suffered from depression as an adolescent. She even goes on to say:

“I lived with my depression for years as an adolescent, without knowing what was wrong. Little by little my sadness grew, and I became more and more dispirited. My family was no help; they treated me as the black sheep and made me feel like a loser. It was not until I sought professional help that I realized that I was not lazy, stupid or a liar –I was just depressed.”

Closer examination on the cause of her depression could be supported by the lack of support and empathy from her family. When this story and the WHO resource are compared to one another, Europe’s focus for mental conditions seems to stem from one’s childhood, mainly the familial relationships and dynamics. In fact, according to psychologist Jennifer Haythornthwaite of Johns Hopkins, bringing a mental condition “closer to home,” especially if they are empathetic, should raise awareness and help anyone who has a mental condition. If families were closer together, more willing of accepting and helping one another, mental conditions may not be as abundant as they are.

Finally, the medical practices within Africa should be noticed as well. According to the RAND corporation, they claim that:

“There is little doubt that effective care for depression and other mental health disorders can lead to significant improvement in overall health outcomes. For instance, a meta-analysis of the effects of anxiety and depression on adherence to HIV treatment has shown depression to be a risk factor for patients’ non-adherence to antiretroviral therapy. Addressing mental health problems must be integral to any health system strategy trying to achieve key development goals.”

Ergo, the main contributing factor for depression within Africa relates towards the lack in quality healthcare. The stress of a failing health does explain why many would retain personality traits of those with depression. Sitawa Wafula, a health advocate in Kenya, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which includes anxiety and depression (TedTalk: . She goes on to say:

“After I found out I had bipolar disorder, I lived with self-doubt and guilt. At times I considered suicide. This prompted me to start a blog, My Mind, My Funk, where I write openly about dealing with severe depression and provide resources for people in Africa going through similar mental health troubles. I’ve also written about another condition I face: epilepsy. Even though epilepsy is a nervous system disorder, some people in Kenya consider it a mental health condition with the reasoning that, like depression, it happens ‘in the head…’ Currently, we’re restructuring the hotline so it can better serve people. We want to find a way to answer general questions — like what are the symptoms of depression or epilepsy — to free the line up for specific questions that require more personal answers from our counselors.”

Within this quote, Wafula has elaborated on how different the traditional treatment for depression is. Rather than resorting to Western medicines and psychotherapy, the preferred solution is to communicate with others in the community who shared the same experience. This provides patients with a comforting and empathetic space to cope with their condition.

After examining three different ways of handling depression, each exhibit a heightened focus on one aspect, but neither venture to examine how other continents treat depression. If this were to happen, the multitude of solutions would provide a more effective handling over the various expressions of depression.


This image represents what I hope we could accomplish. By doing something similar to Ms. Wafula, I believe there could be a real change within any community. What should happen is that we need to create community centers that focus on teenagers through emotional support or encouraging them to continue forward, whether it be through a talent or for their future. Either way, they should first focus on establishing a relationship as to build an empathetic connection. This could lead others to join, which inadvertently spreads awareness of any mental conditions.


Anyone could contribute to this. If you were to contact a school, with the help of friends who have also had similar experiences, you could create a group that could in your community that could treat mental conditions. Another alternative is to go a community center and volunteer. Then, get others to join, which will give the idea popularity. Either one would help the community overall. But, this solution may not agree with everyone. How might we improve or change this?




AM Charts. “Zooming to Countries Map.” JavaScript Maps, AM Charts, 2018, Accessed 21 Apr. 2018. Map.

American Psychiatric Association. “DSM–5 Fact Sheets.” American Psychiatric Association, edited by American Psychiatric Association, 2018, dsm-5-fact-sheets. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

Bangkok Hospital. “Mental Health Rehabilitation and Recovery Center Activities.” Bangkok Hospital, edited by Bangkok Hospital, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

Community Health Center of Central Wyoming. “Depression: It’s Not All in Your Head.” Oil City News, edited by Oil City News, 2018, Accessed 21 Apr. 2018.

Epstein, Daniel. “Personal Stories Moving towards Mental Health.” NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness, edited by NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

Krista. “Krista’s Story.” World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, edited by World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 2018, Accessed 21 Apr. 2018.

Mental Health America. “Asian American/Pacific Islander Communities and Mental Health.” MHA Mental Health America, edited by Mental Health America, Mental Health America, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

MHA Mental Health Association. “Mental Health Treatments.” MHA Mental Health Association, edited by MHA Mental Health Association, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

Ng, Chee Hong. The Stigma of Mental Illness in Asian Cultures. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 1997. Cite Seerx, Accessed 16 Apr.

Medicus Mundi Switzerland. “Case of Depressive Disorders (in Total 322 Millions), by WHO Region.” Global Mental Health, Medicus Mundi Switzerland, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018. Infographic.

Meyers, Laurie. “Asian-American Mental Health.” American Psychological Association, edited by American Psychological Association, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018. —. “European Mental Health Strategy.” World Health Organization, edited by World Health Organization, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

TedTalk. “Why I Speak up about Living with Epilepsy.” TedTalk, Feb. 2017, Accessed 21 Apr. 2018.

The Economist. “Cause of Disability-Adjusted Life-Years.” The Economist, Economist, 11 July 2015, Accessed 21 Apr. 2018. Map.

Wafula, Sitawa. “When I Was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, People Thought I Was Cursed.” NPR, edited by National Public Radio, 15 July 2016, Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

Woldetsadik, Mahlet A. “Mental Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.” Rand Corporation, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr.

World Health Organization. “Data and Resources.” World Health Organization Reigonal Office for Europe, edited by World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 2018, Accessed 14 Apr.

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  1. April 27, 2018 by Sean Mills

    Sounds like a good idea, of one were to create such a group in the community, do you have any recommendations of activities for them to do together.

    • April 28, 2018 by Soren

      Thanks! I would recommend going outside and exploring anything they like to do. The key is to make sure that they feel welcomed and trusted with your presence. So, just make sure you do something that he/she will enjoy.

  2. April 29, 2018 by Anita

    Wow! That’s a wonderful insight. But I believe besides empathy, being the common factor, there should also be emphasis on their background and general health.

    • April 29, 2018 by Soren

      My psychology class really tried to highlight the aspect of empathy, but I do see what you mean. That’s why I tried to take into account the cultural discrepancies by coming up with a solution that could be done by anyone. My hope is that this solution could help anyone with a mental condition, whether it arose from circumstance or heritable traits.

  3. April 30, 2018 by Neil Parks

    I love how you compared the different kinds of treatment to mental health conditions in different countries. I also like your idea to create centers for teens.

    • April 30, 2018 by Soren

      I’m glad you liked it! Also, I love how you used the #Not JustTheWest. I thought it sounded catchy yet suitable for my project. I do hope that my idea could catch on in other countries too.

  4. April 30, 2018 by Mikey Petersen

    I understand the concept of making a group in the community, but I feel like you did not address the problems with the Western biological outlook well.

    • April 30, 2018 by Soren

      I agree with that. I was attempting to focus more on the cultural aspects rather than the physical or biological parts. However, I do recognize that the biology of a mental condition plays an important role as well.

  5. April 30, 2018 by Vicki Ahuja

    I really thought that you wrote about an important topic because one of my friends suffers from depression, and recently she has been talking to her councilor about it. However, I would like to know more about these teenage centers and what they will do.

    • April 30, 2018 by Soren

      They would allow patients to talk out any troubles they are experiencing, providing a place for people to empathize and sympathize with them. These centers are a safe space and a place of growth for them.

  6. April 30, 2018 by Soren

    I’m glad you liked it! Also, I love how you used the #Not JustTheWest. I thought it sounded catchy yet suitable for my project. I do hope that my idea could catch on in other countries too.

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