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  • Writer's picturePaul White

Mental Health through Cultural Identity

How do you connect with your cultural identity? How does it influence your mood and mental health? In addition to personal connections with family, working with the many forms of self-expression through art (painting, poetry, sculpture, music, etc) is a way to deepen your relationship with culture. Below, I have briefly described my journey through personal cultural identity. I hope it inspires you to consider this avenue for addressing any mental health issues you may be having.

I have always been especially interested in understanding my place in the world. It all began in High School where I was exploring the various ways cultures around the world found meaning through connection with their ancestors and contemporaries. I studied many traditions from Native Americans to Eastern traditions to the more closely linked western European lineages of my immediate family. Each time I reached out to a seemingly different culture, I was welcomed with warmth and compassion. I began to feel more like a global citizen than connected with a specific culture. To this day, I feel more comfortable in multi-cultural environments than anywhere else.

Though, I have maintained a steady eye on connecting with my ancestral roots linking me with Ireland, Scotland, England, and Germany. I frequently found satisfaction in exploring these pieces of myself. They have had a significant influence on my life. In particular, I noticed how this search has impacted my mood and general mental health. I noticed the closer I got to identifying specific ancestral locations, the more at-home and relaxed I was feeling within my body.

For many years, I have known about my Irish ancestry and exploring those connections has meant a great deal to me. I feel especially close to the Emerald Isle when I write poetry or listen to the traditional music of this beautiful land. Last year, I was warmly welcomed to work with traditional Irish singer, Susan McKeown, and Cuala Foundation ( Because of this, I feel closer than ever to my purpose and Irish cultural identity.

I feel humbled and honored to work with Susan and Cuala on their mission to: “work to transform disadvantage into an advantage through culture. The mental and emotional distress that can result in suicide, self-harm, addiction, and isolation is often related to intergenerational trauma, and the reasons for this are historical and complex.” In particular, the goal is to accomplish this through artistic self-expression as it relates to cultural identity.

***if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for a free 30-minute consultation…online or in-person***

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