In the mental health field, professionals teach others about boundaries, enhancing humanistic approaches, and learning that communication is the key to respecting each other and oneself. Advocating the importance of human rights to enhancing equality and quality of life is paramount in our field. As a professional in the field of psychology, teaching assertiveness skills is important and helps balance respect with protecting ones own values and beliefs. How do you distinguish an assertive person from a nonassertive person? A person who is assertive is clear, confident, and in control of themselves. They can stand up for their rights without disregarding other people’s rights. They speak directly, honestly, and respectfully with a clear speaking voice. Assertive people are able to say “no” to things they are uncomfortable with, and are not willing to compromise their own values or beliefs in order to make others happy. A nonassertive or passive person tends to avoid dealing with problems and does no speak up for their rights. They are often nervous or anxious, seem to have little self-confidence, and talk in a quiet voice. Passive people often try to please others and do not take care of their own needs. Because passive people “stuff” anger instead of expressing it, the anger may build up inside. Either this built-up anger will lead to an explosion, or the person may develop problems like depression, headaches, and other issues such as sleeplessness and anxiety.
As a Bilingual Mexican American woman, I was raised with the understanding that Mexican women are nonassertive. On the other hand, I was raised in the Los Angeles County, the city of dreams that embraces people to fight for their rights and hone in the importance of respecting the multicultural prospective. Growing up, I challenged the beliefs that were bestowed upon women in minority cultures. With the support of my mother I was able to learn how to be assertive and follow my own beliefs. I went on to college and graduate school to be a mental health professional which allows me to pass on the message to other minority women who attempt a life that allows women to follow their own beliefs and challenge the stigma that minority women do not have the ability to act on their beliefs. My focus is to educate as many professionals about the importance of human rights for individuals and families that struggle with mental illnesses and for minority women that have the ability to live a life worth living by embracing equality and human rights.