Stigma of TB in Tajikstan
You know how even back home, people are still reluctant to let it become known that they need psychological help? It still seems to be seen as a weakness to have feelings and moods and tension, and to go to a professional for help in working through them. I mean, I get it. It’s in our culture to be valued for being strong and not needing any help, and we all fear appearing to be weak. Yet talk to anyone who has seen a good psychotherapist or mental health counselor and they will all say how they wish everyone could have that experience. Slowly the attitudes are changing, back home.
Imagine how much longer it is taking, then, in countries – like here in Tajikistan – where there is no word for ‘counselor’, let alone something like ‘psychosocial support’. There are few mental health services here and suggesting someone could use them often causes dismay, or even shame. And we haven’t even started to talk about TB yet and how that is a subject for mental health. Changing attitudes is a long way off, I’m afraid, yet in my humble opinion after just one month, is the main thing we need to help out with!
So we start at the beginning: talking, listening, supporting, doing whatever it takes to help them stay on the program. But privately, because no one must know. Psychosocial help signals weakness, but in this culture so does having TB. Which brings me to the stigma … families here are being shunned and devalued by those around them just for having TB. Misconceptions and misguided beliefs about the disease are the main reason.
Terry explains the debilitating stigma around TB in Tajikistan. Please leave your questions and comments for Terry in the comments box below her post.