Colonialism Reconsidered: An Analysis of Socioeconomic and Cultural Factors Affecting the Mental Health of Hawaiians

Hershel, Helena Jia
November 1986
Humanity & Society;Nov86, Vol. 10 Issue 4, p448
Academic Journal
This article focuses on four factors affecting mental health care among Hawaiians, colonialism, social economic stratification, cultural determinants and options for coping with mental illness. First, the historical context of colonialism is presented, placing in perspective the development of Hawaiian social structure as it exists today with its multi-ethnic population racial and class dimensions. Within this context, the importation and conditions of labor continue to effect social and economic stratification as well as mental health conditions among Hawaiians. Second, major contemporary socioeconomic and demographic stressors are reviewed. These include the threat of displacement, poverty, unemployment and health risks associated with economic and cultural disenfranchisement. Third, the colonial impact on mental health is evaluated. In the final section, coping strategies of Hawaiians are illustrated with brief ethnographic examples. The Hawaiian mode of coping with mental illness affords them resources which distinguishes them the most from other ethnic groups in Hawaii.


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