Mental health: Caused by cultural shock

Cultural shock– The tension caused by being in an unfamiliar place, encountering with uneasy surprises, and comparing the two cultures, even if it is too harsh.

Mental health –It  includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

When is professional help needed?

  • feeling homesick most or all of the time
  • feeling lonely most of the time
  • feeling sad or anxious most of the time
  • having difficulty concentrating
  • feeling irritable or depressed
  • having more “minor illnesses” such as colds, headaches, or stomach pains
  • experiencing academic difficulties that they have never experienced before
  • experiencing an increase in unexplained physical problems
  • experiencing a marked change in sleep and/or appetite
  • crying more often; sometimes for no reason
  • feeling tension and pressure most of the time

Science of Education point of view  

In the educational field, we have to deal with complex situations caused by cultural shocks (such as covid), it is fundamental to know how to activate strategies and interventions that can help children and young people to react

Social Sciences point of view

When people who come to different kind of environment feels disoriented, they have “a feeling of impotence from the inability to deal with the environment because of unfamiliarity with cognitive aspects and role-playing skills”(Taft, 1977)

“As to roles central to one’s identity may be lost in the new culture. Changes in social roles and interpersonal relations affect well-being and self-concept, resulting in “role shock” (Byrnes, 1966). One’s identity is maintained in part by social roles that contribute to well-being through structuring social interaction. In the new cultural setting, the prior roles are largely eliminated and replaced with unfamiliar roles and expectations. This leads to role shock resulting from an ambiguity about one’s social position, the loss of normal social relations and roles, and new roles inconsistent with previous self-concept. For instance, dependence relations may no longer be supported, or conversely, a previously independent person may have to accept a dependent relationship with an authority figure.” 


Medical Science point of   view

Culture can generally be defined as a way of life. People have different ways of doing things, different ways of eating, of greeting and so on.It is therefore not surprising that people have culture shock when they move to a new place. The inability to relate to the way of life of the people in the new environment. Realizing everything is different from what it is like back home and not knowing how to take everything in. This can lead to feeling homesick, isolating oneself and not wanting to integrate and even worse, depression.

Gender diferences


  • talk more easily about their issues
  • tend to be submissive and more likely to have emotional breakdown then the men are
  • tend to be an overthinker more than the boys in average


  • tend to close in on themselves and deal with problems alone
  • tend to be more aggressive and violent while having stressfull situations than girls

Interviews: What do students of different nationalities think about this issue?

1)Take for example the corona virus situation we experienced. Did it cause you difficulties in managing your college career?

2) In your opinion, does the university you study at offer support for students who have problems managing their personal dimensions as a result of certain culture shocks?

3) In your opinion, is there a difference in dealing with such stressful situations between girls and boys?

4) In the country where you live, do you feel uncomfortable expressing your insecurities due to these events or do you feel supported and helped?


With regard to the responses of the Italian young people, we can highlight how the gender difference in facing the difficulty of a cultural shock, as in this case was the corona virus, is not perceived. They underline that  is more of a social perception that there are differences in dealing with different situations. In fact, they underline that such situations are faced differently from person to person, regardless of gender. Moreover the Italian girl argues that the Italian university proposes interventions and support for young people who find themselves in these complex psychological situations, but these aids are not well defined and sponsored and for this reasons are not frequently use.


From our  interview with young Nigerians, most of which are studying here in Poland, the response was basically the same as with both genders. Managing studies with the pandemic from their response is quite a difficult one, having classes online and the struggle to concentrate. Also the university they study at give maximum support to student who face different problems resulting from culture shock. Boys also have it more easier dealing with stressful situation, in most cases they avoid the situation rather than deal with it.


Conclusion of this interviews: Girls approach it more emotionally, while boys practically. They don’t feel support from institutions. Girls and boys don’t see the influence of gender on how they handle stressful situations, but rather as something individual level.


Conclusion of the interviews with the Turkish students: Even though there is outstanding abnormality like corona virus during the interviews been made, most of the students from Turkey stated that they are having so much difficulties because of the cultural elements and culture itself. And both genders are having difficulties equaly in terms of mental health problems caused by cultural shock. There is an only slight difference between boys and girls, which is boys tend to hide their problems to be able to seen strong, most of the girls tend to experience these effects more deeply.  Also according to the general answers from the students of Turkey, the girls are kinda bullied more than the boys are because of cultural shocks. By the society the girls are expected to be more perfect even during the unknown situations are experienced than boy are.

Detailed answer of participants:





Conclusion: What we can said about this theme?

●we should talk more about such problems/be more educated

● we should learn how to talk about our feelings

● this is a big issue, but we don’t talk about it

● women and men don’t go through this problem differently, only society perceives them differently.

● educational institutions (and others) should provide practical and listening support. The global pandemic has shown the fragility of young people and it is the task of teachers, politicians, parents (therefore of the whole society) to take care of their future adults.

● the parents should be informed/ if necessary lectured about these things, so that they will know when their children are experiencing such a thing like this.

● the universities must have a consultation offices for the students who are experiencing cultural shock.

● this term should be tought in the classrooms so that the students and also the educators will know that this is a common and normal thing to experience and we should be able to talk about it and express our feelings.


Zeynep Leyla Şahiner, Aleksandra Lewandowska, Agnieszka Bednarska, Arianna Pegoraro, Agata Olrich,Chibueze Augustina