Ethnicity & Cultural Identity

Our ethnicity and cultural identity are fundamental to our mental health. Unfortunately we live in a world where racism persists, and not everyone’s heritage and culture is valued equally. These inequalities can have a powerful impact on our self-image, confidence and life chances.


What is culture?

Cultures exist wherever people do. They are what give rise to our beliefs about the world and our values. Our values are what influence our behaviour and choices in life.

A strong sense of cultural identity and pride is important to our sense of self and self-worth. It can give life meaning and provide us with an anchor and compass when life gets tough.

Culture and conflict

As we grow up we start to ask important questions about life and decide for ourselves what we believe and value. This can often bring us into conflict with the cultural values of previous generations and our parents, but it can just as easily bring us into conflict with the culture of our peers.

We all want to ‘fit-in’, but sometimes ‘fitting-in’ means compromising or giving up values and beliefs we think are important, and this can be a difficult and painful dilemma.

Culture is always changing just like us, so some conflict is a normal and inevitable part of growing up and becoming an authentic version of ourselves.

Social inequality

We don’t live in a society where everybody’s culture is valued equally. You can see this in the way some people treat one another in the streets or online, but its also true of the social and economic structures we live in.

What we mean by ‘structures’ are big things like language, history, education, opportunity and representation. Among these there remains a powerful bias towards the values and beliefs of white, straight, middle-class, middle aged cis men.

This matters because it’s this worldview that gets to decide what ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ looks like, and to enact this in policy, laws, and institutions.

Here at OTR, we believe that our mental health is a political and social thing as well as a personal thing, and that activism is an important form of self-care. We’re passionate about embracing these conversations and supporting you to explore these ideas.

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