Mental health help is non existent here. As a kid if you want someone to talk to, you better pray you have a homeroom teacher who knows how to talk about your problems and help you work through them. I am amazed at how many homeroom teachers have to “mom” everyone and play therapist. Some of them do a great job of it, most of them don’t care or have the time to help 30 students with their problems.
As an adult, you can take a whole host of drugs, even though all most people need is someone to talk through the problems they’re having and give them help in working them out. Drugs don’t replace human interaction. It’s why alcoholism is a problem everywhere – using a drug to combat one’s own loneliness. I tried to find a counselor here…yeah they’re worthless.
Parents certainly play a huge role here. I have four students in one regular class who can’t speak properly (stutter, start to ask a question and then just walk away like they had nothing to say in the first place, etc.) and can’t even write their own Chinese names. They clearly have some serious learning disabilities, but their parents insist that their kid is “normal” and refuse to allow testing for disability. Some of them have multiple siblings who are also cognitively impaired, all of them consistently failing every single test and unable to even copy homework answers from others. One of them started filling in all the circles on a test answer sheet. The parents complained when the kid got a 0%. I am no longer allowed to give about 12 of my 175 students grades because I gave them all 50% since they showed up to class and colored the whole time, completely oblivious to the fact that English class was happening around them.
My guess would be over 90% of my students come from broken families. The only way they know to work out conflicts is to beat each other up and put their fists through windows. They are all in serious need of help, but there isn’t any, even if they were willing to get it.
Did you ever notice that “酒鬼” has a somewhat positive connotation? There isn’t really any stigma against alcoholism here, which doesn’t mean people get help without fear. It means it’s perfectly normal to be an alcoholic, not that alcoholism is viewed as a serious mental illness.
I don’t know about the rest of “the West”, but in the US, mental health has flipped in the other direction. By the time I was graduating from college (uni), everything needed trigger warnings and plenty of people would excuse themselves from class when it “gave them anxiety”. My first three years of college weren’t like that.
By the time I got to student teaching, I was constantly dealing with students that “couldn’t do things” “because of anxiety” or “depression” or “because I had a panic attack last night”. I’m shocked I wasn’t sued for telling a class that if they’re unable to complete assignments for mental health reasons, they need to see someone to help them get over it. “Recording a video in Chinese gives me anxiety”. Ok, then see someone about your anxiety or bring a note from a licensed medical professional excusing your lack of 65% of your assignments or drop my class. Cuz a hard-ass teacher is going to help your anxiety (not). My problem is that I almost think it’s “trendy” to have mental health problems in American schools at the moment. I’m not being callous; I certainly had my share of mental health struggles throughout my life. I’ve been through more than one instance in my life that resulted in (diagnosed) PTSD. But when you constantly use your mental illness as an excuse for absolutely everything, as many people do in the US… Yes, it can be crippling, but if you aren’t working through it with someone you can’t take it out on everyone and everything around you.
At least schools in the US are legally obligated to make sure students with physical and learning disabilities are helped. Parents can’t just say “my kid is normal, don’t you dare put them in a special ed class” when it’s clear they can’t write their own name in 7th grade.
Somewhere between Taiwan at its current state and the US at its current state, there is a balance in the world of mental health help.