Stigma in Christian and Asian Communities


In at this time’s episode, Dr. Esther Park, who’s each Korean and Christian, explains the psychological well being stigma she has seen in each of those circles. Dr. Park helps make clear these points and encourages folks in these teams to grasp the significance of searching for skilled assist.

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Visitor data for ‘Esther Park – Asian & Christian Stigma’ Podcast Episode

Dr. Park is a board-certified little one, adolescent and grownup psychiatrist. Her undergraduate research had been accomplished at UCLA. She skilled to be a doctor at Kirksville School of Osteopathic Drugs. Throughout the first 12 months of her household medication residency coaching program, she realized her calling was actually within the psychological well being discipline. Dr. Park accomplished her psychiatric coaching on the LAC/USC Medical Heart and has greater than seventeen years of outpatient medical expertise treating kids and adults.

About The Psych Central Podcast Host

Gabe Howard is an award-winning author and speaker who lives with bipolar dysfunction. He’s the writer of the favored e-book, Psychological Sickness is an Asshole and different Observations, out there from Amazon; signed copies are additionally out there immediately from the writer. To be taught extra about Gabe, please go to his web site,

Laptop Generated Transcript for ‘Esther Park – Asian & Christian Stigma’ Episode

Editor’s Observe: Please be aware that this transcript has been laptop generated and subsequently might include inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thanks.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Psych Central Podcast, the place visitor specialists within the discipline of psychology and psychological well being share thought-provoking data utilizing plain, on a regular basis language. Right here’s your host, Gabe Howard.

Gabe Howard: Welcome to this week’s episode of The Psych Central Podcast. Calling into the present at this time, we’ve got Dr. Esther Park, who’s a board licensed little one, adolescent and grownup psychiatrist. Dr. Park accomplished her psychiatric coaching on the LAC/USC Medical Heart and has greater than 17 years of outpatient medical expertise treating adults and youngsters. Dr. Park, welcome to the present.

Dr. Esther Park: Oh, it’s such a pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Gabe Howard: Properly, we’re actually excited to have you ever right here as a result of we wish to discuss concerning the stigma of psychological well being within the Christian and Asian communities. So let’s soar proper in. Why is there stigma round psychological well being in lots of Christian circles?

Dr. Esther Park: That is an space the place I’m very acquainted. I grew up my father was a Presbyterian minister from Korea as a primary technology Korean shifting right here to the US. And I used to be born right here. So I’m a US born Korean American. So I bought to see simply what it’s wish to develop up in a church, truly, Korean church. I consider that the stigma comes from misconceptions, a whole lot of misconceptions about therapeutic typically, basic therapeutic of bodily issues and particularly psychological therapeutic. So, for instance, perhaps 1700’s, proper. The place extreme psychological sickness equivalent to schizophrenia, the place they’re having hallucinations and weird behaviors that was appeared upon as demon possessed. And so from these generations and centuries till now, it nonetheless has type of trickled to this contemporary day of in case you have a psychological sickness and you may’t, quote unquote, shake it off, that one thing’s unsuitable with you spiritually.

Gabe Howard: I’m reminded of the Salem witch trials, and in

Dr. Esther Park: Sure.

Gabe Howard: 2020, nearly all of folks consider that that was simply an excessive overreaction primarily based on so many components, however concern being a main one. And now right here we’re in 2020. And I acknowledge that we’re not burning anyone on the stake. However it’s attention-grabbing to me that we’re permitting kind of this misinformation or false impression and this concern of psychological sickness drive our considering when the typical particular person in 2020 fully understands that letting concern and misinformation drive our considering all the way in which again in Salem was an overreach and an overreaction, it appears like the identical factor simply with much less dire penalties. Besides, in fact, in case you’re an individual residing with psychological sickness or psychological well being points and also you don’t get the remedy and assist that you just want, you recognize, dying is a really actual chance.

Dr. Esther Park: Proper, I completely agree, it’s only a completely different kind now, it’s simply extra perhaps acceptable kind at this time of how individuals are being seen or handled each time they’re struggling, after which that causes folks to not share their struggles.

Gabe Howard: Do you’re feeling that the typical Christian feels that they will’t search assist as a result of it insults their religion, or is it deeper than that?

Dr. Esther Park: Not about insulting their very own religion, it’s about like if I sought assist and I discover out that I actually have a analysis or I’m actually experiencing one thing actual, then that’s going to show that I’m not an individual of true religion or my religion is weaker than others. And so they’re very fearful to find that generally. So there’s an excessive amount of denial and an excessive amount of I can simply beat this with my religion. All I’ve to do is pray, or all I’ve to do is go to extra worship companies. So I feel these are the the reason why, somewhat than a direct insult to the religion professionally, I’d say why there’s a stigma. There may be such minimal information, the ignorance about physiology and medical background and even psychology. Even your entire discipline of psychology, there may be one other false impression simply primarily based on the concern that that isn’t of God. And so they suppose that psychologists and even the theorists of the previous are usually not aligned with God and so they simply type of alienate them or marginalize them as reverse of God or atheists. And so I discovered that very intriguing as a result of I grew up even I feel my very own dad would discuss Freud or different well-known theorists, not that they’re of the satan, however like they’re influenced perhaps and didn’t belief psychology. And perhaps folks don’t even attempt to go to a psychologist for concern that, oh, they’re going to vary me.

Dr. Esther Park: And if they alter me, I’m not going to consider in God. I may be speaking actually extraordinarily by way of like what they had been considering. However deep down inside, there may be a lot concern in going to a psychologist. They don’t know that these are precise neurologically primarily based struggles, for instance, main despair, extreme nervousness issues, bipolar, schizophrenia. These are issues of neurotransmitter imbalances. And they are often handled. Alternatively, on the religious degree, I’m a agency believer that many have inaccurate understanding about what we name the gospel or the excellent news. They don’t know the message of the Bible. I feel they misconstrue so many issues and simply decide and select what they suppose is the doctrines after which apply it to sure issues. For instance, have you ever ever heard of the phrase legalism? Legalism is a time period of primarily based on the regulation. So, for instance, there are legal guidelines of God or there’s these conventional legal guidelines interpreted as legal guidelines of God, and it’s essential to obey them. And that’s the one technique to please God or get blessings. And subsequently, in case you don’t, you might get punished. If the psychological well being problem is taken into account as a punishment, then they might be experiencing, oh, I have to be punished. This have to be a consequence of a previous wrongdoing. So it’s completely the misperception begins to essentially take over.

Gabe Howard: It actually looks like there’s simply a whole lot of misinformation. What we actually have here’s a organic mind primarily based dysfunction that wants medical intervention, medical intervention that may be offered by, for instance, Dr. Park. However we begin to flip it into greater than it’s. And all through historical past, we’ve had so many examples of this. However I suppose my query is each as a health care provider and as a Christian, what recommendation do you’ve for people who find themselves combating this? As a result of we wish folks to get the care that they want. We wish them to have the ability to transfer ahead of their lives. And we actually don’t need one thing like misinformation or concern to carry them again from main their greatest life.

Dr. Esther Park: Completely, I simply love the way you talked about about main their greatest life, lots of the talks that we give, whether or not it’s at Christian communities or faculties or different locations, we emphasize that psychological struggling is a blockage, an impediment to reaching our biggest potentials. And in my view, as a Christian, I don’t suppose God intends for struggling to persist and proceed, and he by no means intends for it to dam somebody to achieve their biggest potential. So my encouragement often is that if there may be ache, similar to in case you have a persistent piercing headache, you wouldn’t simply sit on that. You truly would ask the query, why am I having this ache? I don’t like this ache, it’s bothering me. Possibly I ought to go search assist in the identical approach when there may be an emotional ache or a battle that’s piercing the perform of their life, that questions will probably be requested. They may ask it, why am I having this? However then it stops there. And so my encouragement is to essentially be taught that there’s a organic foundation. And naturally there are psychological points and sociological points. And I all the time add to this neighborhood there’s a religious problem, however you must deal with all of them. You possibly can’t simply label it because it’s a religious problem and I’ve to hope it off.

Gabe Howard: Let’s take a second to speak concerning the position of prayer in restoration, since you’re actually not saying that prayer has no place, you’re simply saying that it gained’t work in isolation, very like in lots of bodily sicknesses. For instance, in case you break your leg, no person is shaming you for praying. They’re simply saying that you just also needs to go to a health care provider, have your leg set and be put in a solid. Is that analogous to what we’re speaking about in psychological well being as properly?

Dr. Esther Park: Sure, I agree, positively. I’m not saying you don’t want prayer or don’t pray after I take into consideration what God is , He’s like, OK, you need my assist? Properly, I’m going to offer you assist. And the assistance goes to be by way of somebody I ship that will help you. I really feel that prayer has so many roles within the Christian life. So in our on a regular basis struggles, equivalent to bodily, psychological sicknesses, it’s pure to ask God, please assist me. And I strongly consider that he has ordained and given presents and abilities to individuals who can convey that therapeutic, who can convey the medical therapeutic half, and he’ll do the remaining.

Gabe Howard: And we’ll be proper again after these messages.

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Gabe Howard: We’re again discussing psychological sickness and the Asian and Christian communities with Dr. Esther Park. One of many issues that you just discuss being Asian-American is that it’s not simply the Christian tradition that’s combating accepting psychological well being points, however there’s additionally cultural points contained in the Asian-American neighborhood the place, as you set it, they don’t perceive or settle for psychological well being points from a cultural foundation that has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s simply kind of the tradition. These items have so much in widespread, proper. It’s the identical kind of mechanism. Are you able to converse to that? Since you converse to it very properly.

Dr. Esther Park: Sure, the Asian circles have one thing in widespread, in my view, which is a cultural facet of not expressing your feelings, emotions and conflicts and struggles, not that they’ll deny that they’ve these, but when they specific that they’re struggling, then it could be an indication of weak point. After which that may result in the potential for bringing disgrace upon the household. Within the Asian circles, the place collectivism is extra dominant than the individualistic viewpoint, I’ve to take care of the respect of the household. So, for instance, if I’ve a extreme psychological sickness which causes behavioral adjustments that may be appeared upon by others with their eyebrows raised like what’s happening there, then that might truly convey disgrace. And if I convey disgrace to the household, then I’ll devalue my household or I’ll smash my household’s title. So I’ve to do my greatest to attempt to keep away from the danger of attracting any disrespect or gossip from others outdoors. Due to this fact, I want to simply buck up and determine this out by myself. It’s a extremely enormous strain to attempt to all the time look OK to look good, as a result of if I don’t, then my household gained’t and I can’t dishonor my dad and mom that approach. I’d say for a lot of Asian communities and nations that is what’s happening. And relating to sickness, psychological sickness, much more than bodily sickness, it’s stored inside and withdrawn and remoted.

Gabe Howard: Now, some of us could also be considering that this isn’t a Christian problem or a cultural problem, that is only a societal problem, that each tradition has this problem accepting psychological well being or psychological sickness. Do you suppose that it’s worse in Christian communities? Do you suppose it’s the identical? Do you suppose it’s the identical mechanism? Do you suppose it’s a variation of a theme? As a result of there may be an terrible lot of discrimination and stigma surrounding psychological sickness and psychological well being points. How does it differ when we’ve got these further cultural expectations concerned?

Dr. Esther Park: I’d say there are some overlap after which there are some separate components for every, however I feel the one overlap is, for instance, if I confess overtly that I’m very a lot in ache, I’m struggling, I need assistance, like, for instance, addictions. That’s one thing very, very troublesome to admit in Bible circles which may show I’m not little one to my Asian household. I’ve dissatisfied my household or it proves I’m not a robust Christian and subsequently I simply must stay with this habit and be on my own, simply conceal it from everybody else. So I’d say that’s one thing that describes an overlap concerning, for instance, addictions.

Gabe Howard: Brief time period, what will be carried out to scale back resistance and to assist folks in these populations to be extra keen to hunt and clearly get assist and be properly?

Dr. Esther Park: For individuals who come to a middle like ours, Oak Well being Heart, they’re already struggling drastically, they muster up sufficient braveness to return to us. And so initially, the clinicians right here, we attempt to present what we name psycho schooling, which is simply schooling concerning psychological components and psychological sicknesses. We discuss concerning the illness state. We discuss what the usual of care of remedy is. We allow them to know what the previous restoration charges have been for others. We inform them that you’re not alone. This isn’t one thing new. That is one thing that many others expertise. And we’re aware of them. And we discuss concerning the dangers and advantages to remedy, about how the advantages outweigh the dangers. And slowly, a lot of them change into inspired as a result of they expertise hope and so they expertise discount of their unique stigmas and their ideas. After which once they begin attempting the remedy and so they expertise some restoration and the place their perform is improved, not solely enhance however to the following degree the place they attain the following degree of their potential, they change into naturally excited and that can naturally allow them to share with others. And one other approach we try to scale back that resistance is we’re doing shows and talks and we convey the attention to them by talking on these subjects and speaking concerning the particular questions that we all know that they’ve and the misconceptions that they’ve. I really feel that that has helped as a result of after these talks, some who might by no means have known as to get an analysis, they might name.

Gabe Howard: That’s unbelievable. Now, let’s discuss long run. Long run, what’s going to it take to take away this stigma totally in Christian circles? Is it even potential to take action?

Dr. Esther Park: I feel it’s potential. Within the Christian circles long run, with the intention to convey extra consciousness and lift an acceptance, it needs to be from the leaders. The leaders most likely be taught from their predecessors concerning these misconceptions and subsequently unintentionally. Possibly they preserve that and so they proceed that. I really feel that we have to assist leaders to be educated first and scale back their very own misconceptions and ignorances in order that they are going to really feel snug to show and preach to their congregations of their ministries about these points as a result of if they create it up on the entrance, then there will probably be a realization that, oh, this isn’t irregular or loopy. We’re all going by way of this and I ought to take note of it. Additionally, I really feel that if they’ve that acknowledgment and consciousness that they aren’t professionals, however that they’re type of like center particular person counselors as a result of so many would go to them with their struggles. Many pastors and leaders, they do their greatest, they counsel and so they pray. However there’s a sure degree of sickness the place they should be referred for skilled care. In order that type of schooling, consciousness and coaching can be very needed.

Gabe Howard: Clearly, thanks a lot on your candor and might you give us some instance of the place these stigmas had been overcome within the Christian neighborhood? As a result of that provides us hope, proper?

Dr. Esther Park: Oh, sure, truly, myself, for instance, I started as a household medication resident and I had this dream of being a health care provider and perhaps I’ll journey the world and I will probably be a medical missionary and heal all people. So I started that approach and I spotted I totally disliked the residency. And I had a disaster throughout that point of my profession of, oh, my goodness, I wasn’t imagined to be a health care provider. What am I imagined to do now? However throughout that 12 months, I spotted there are different residencies and different specialties and perhaps I ought to take into account them. So after I switched to psychiatry, I used to be considerably hesitant as a result of I didn’t know what my dad and mom would say, particularly my dad being an Asian Christian pastor. And I used to be so stunned and inspired as a result of after I informed them about it, I mentioned, Hey, Dad, I’m not going to be a household apply physician anymore. I’m going to enter psychiatry. And he was truly so excited and he mentioned, in fact, you want to be a psychological physician. I’m like, what are you speaking about? I assumed perhaps you wouldn’t suppose that’s even an actual physician. And his response was, what do you imply? Psychology and psychiatry is the closest to the soul and so many are struggling. You could assist them with their emotional psychological disturbances in order that they will perhaps ultimately meet God that approach. In order that was his response.

Gabe Howard: Thanks a lot for sharing these and please thank your father for us, as a result of I do know that particularly in psychological well being circles, generally our households aren’t keen to allow us to share how our households have developed, as a result of, as you’ve mentioned, we simply attempt to preserve all of it internalized to not and I’m making air quotes right here embarrass the household. And I feel it’s wholesome to get it on the market and have troublesome conversations surrounding psychological sickness and psychological well being points. And I applaud you and your loved ones and the entire work that’s being carried out. It can completely save lives.

Dr. Esther Park: Thanks a lot.

Gabe Howard: Oh, you’re very welcome. The place can of us discover you on the Net?

Dr. Esther Park: Our clinic web site is Oak.Care.   W W W dot O A Ok dot C A R E, and there you’ll discover the listing of our places and what companies we offer. And we’re very proud to report that we’re direct suppliers for Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross, which is essential to lots of people. And should I add yet one more web site? Particularly for individuals who are within the Christian neighborhood and struggling, they’re welcome to go to Oak Well being Basis, multi function phrase dot org, the place there they will examine what we do and maybe after studying that, discover encouragement to attempt to search assist.

Gabe Howard: Properly, Dr. Park, thanks a lot for being right here and for sharing each from an expert degree and from a private one, we actually, actually admire it.

Dr. Esther Park: So glad to be right here. Thanks a lot, Gabe.

Gabe Howard: Properly, you’re very welcome, thanks a lot and pay attention up, listeners, right here’s what we’d like you to do. Please, wherever you downloaded this podcast, please subscribe. That approach you don’t miss any nice episodes. Share us on social media and use your phrases. Inform folks why they need to pay attention as properly. And bear in mind, you will get one week of free, handy, reasonably priced, non-public on-line counseling any time wherever, just by visiting We’ll see all people subsequent week.

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