Cultural Assimilation Is The Most Effective Way To Reduce The Psychological Effects Of Racism

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Cultural assimilation is ultimately the undertaking in which a minority group or small culture comes to resemble a governing or superior group which is achieved when adapting to the values, behaviours, and beliefs of another group (Angelini, Casi, and Corazzini, 2014). Many countries require immigrants to adapt to their culture but are rejecting and denying the psychological effects that can be caused during this process. This essay will critically explore how immigrants such as Indigenous cultures have not benefited from cultural assimilation and how it has detrimental effects on their psychological health.

Culture is very important to Indigenous people as it holds their beliefs, values and shapes their identity in significant ways. Cultural assimilation has not only forced Aboriginal people to adapt to the ‘Australian way of life’ losing parts of their identity and culture but has been the cause for more racism towards their culture. There is a high level of stress when being on receiving end of racism as racial abuse can harm people’s very own sense of self. There are many concerning connections between racism, psychology, and mental health for multicultural communities like Australia (Paradies, 2016). The effects of cultural assimilation not only impact mental health but, social, economic, and cultural experiences too. Researches have indicated there are explicit psychological impacts that have resulted from historical trauma, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (Kartal and Kiropoulos, 2016). Survey information found that almost one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have actually experienced high levels of psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress), which is almost three times higher for non-Indigenous Australian’s (ABS, 2013). These statistics from the survey provide clear differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian’s and the potential mediators in psychological distress, including unemployment, fewer educational qualifications, lower-income and adverse Life events. All of which can be factored down to the psychological effects of racism and the impact cultural assimilation has had on both Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures in Australia.

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The concepts of Indigenous mental health are usually far broader than psychological distress, it is often described as social and emotional wellbeing (Jorm et al., 2012).It can be described as the social, cultural, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing of a person which is fundamentally influenced by policies and past events. Historical and contemporary events such as cultural assimilation are associated with the disadvantages of being from an Indigenous background, in Australia Aboriginal people experience extreme amounts of racism from colonisation and oppression which in turn affects there overall wellbeing status. A study was completed by the Aboriginal Birth Cohort (ABC) measuring racism and the effects it has on young Indigenous adults in the Northern Territory of Australia. The results found that young Aboriginal people who experienced racism all had symptoms of anxiety, depression, suicide risk, and overall poor mental health (Calma, Dudgeon, and Bray, 2017). The study also found that early childhood is the most significant and vulnerable time to cause experiences psychological distress when they have experienced racism. The evidence from the ABC study portrays mental health issues that develop at this early stage of life are more likely to consequently affect education, social, and health for the coming years (Mellor, 2004). This study greatly provided the support for the need to overcome racism as it is the main contributor to the social and emotional wellbeing of the young Aboriginal people living in Australia and also proves that cultural assimilation is not effective in reducing racism towards Indigenous cultures around Australia.

In conclusion, Cultural Assimilation is not the most effective way to reduce the psychological effects of racism towards immigrants including the Indigenous population. Through the evidence presented in the essay, it is believed cultural assimilation is a main cause for the psychological distress and detrimental effects on wellbeing towards the minority cultures trying to assimilate into the superior culture.          

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