I understand this ideology because I am Asian. My father is Okinawan Japanese and was raised in Hawaii. Growing up I understood what it meant to “save face”. We are taught that it is not okay to show weakness or any imperfections, and whatever you do, definitely do not cry in public. In doing so, it could not only reflect poorly on you, but also on your own family members.
If you are not familiar with this concept, here is the definition for you on Saving Face (according to Psychology Today):
Saving Face - The concept is a core social value in Asian cultures, among others. The meaning has remained stable across time. Saving Face signifies a desire—or defines a strategy—to avoid humiliation or embarrassment, to maintain dignity or preserve reputation.
So, what happens when “saving face” becomes more important than saving our own mental health? At what cost? It could literally mean saving someone’s life, or having a better quality of life, both of which are incredibly important. In fact, too important to “save face” or to stay silent on this topic about Asians and mental health. I’d rather see someone I love “lose face”, instead of lose their own life to suicide because they didn’t get access to the help they needed due to cultural stigma.
Have you ever tried to “save face” over taking care of your own mental health? Or do you know of any friends who struggle with talking about depression, anxiety, and other mental health related issues because they are trying so desperately to “save face”?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
It really is okay not to be okay, and it's okay to talk about it. Talking about mental health saves lives.
Read more about Minority Mental Health Month here:
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