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Culture and Diversity

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Introduction
Publications
Research and Practice
Videos and Presentations
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Introduction

Good mental health is recognised as an integral part of a person’s wellbeing, embedded in all aspects of a whole life, their beliefs, faith, culture, environment, spirituality, work, housing, education, family and community respect.
There is much to be learnt in western countries from the holistic approach practiced in some developing countries.
When assisting developing countries and black and minority ethnic populations within western counties, care must be taken not to promote or impose western ideas and models, as these only perpetuate outdated ideas of a western medical model.
Further, it is important to apply culturally sensitive approaches and competencies in attitudes, understanding and practice towards people all over the world.
To achieve this, recognition and respect for peoples backgrounds, traditions, beliefs, customs and local and natural helping networks must be fully acknowledged.
In many countries in the world people from diverse ethnic backgrounds have struggled with being treated as different to the rest of the community. This has a significant impact on peoples wellbing and mental health. In Western countries people from black and minority communities are over respresentative in services and it is acknowledged by policy makers and providers as an issue of concern.
Specifically, more people from diverse ethnic backgrounds are diagnosed as having a mental health disorder for emotional and mental distress, furthermore they are being diagnosed with serious mental illnesses more than the rest of the population. In some countries, particularly the UK, people from these backgrounds are being compulsory treated and to stay longer in hospital than the rest of the population.
Instead of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds being stigmatised and treated differently they should be valued for the diversity and richness they bring to society. All people having an impact on an individual’s wellbeing should be aware of their own perceptions, assumptions and prejudices particularly when making judgements and assessments of an individual’s mental health status.
There is much to be learned in the world from cultures, ways of life and the ways people are included of people in every aspect of a community life. For example there are many countires in the developing world with greater recovery rates from serious mental health conditions in comparison with European and Western countries. The evidence from international longitudinal studies need to be taken into account by service users, family members, policy makers and providers.

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Publications (date ordered)

Cultural Diversity, Mental Health and Psychiatry: The Struggle Against Racism Suman Fernando  'Black and minority ethnic communities lack confidence in mental health services', according to the National Service Framework for Mental Health published by the Department of Health in 1999. Cultural Diversity, Mental Health and Psychiatry examines how and why this situation has come about, and makes specific practical, often surprising, suggestions for changing the status quo. In his latest and most critical analysis, Suman Fernando reflects on the current situation in light of his own personal experience, academic research and anecdotal reports. He weaves together themes of immense importance for the future of psychiatry and mental health services in a multi-cultural setting, exploring:

* the nature of racism and its permeation into mental health services
* the inside story of the struggle against racism in statutory and voluntary sectors of the mental health system
* the history of psychiatry and the role of spirituality, holistic thinking, psychotherapy and Asian traditions of medicine. 

Trainees, practitioners, and managers of mental health services will profit from the practical application of Fernando's latest ideas, and students and academics will benefit from his theoretical guidance.

Mental health, Race and Culture (Palgrave, 2002) Suman Fernando  This powerful text offers a unique analysis of the impact of race and culture on contemporary issues in mental health. Drawing on extensive international experience, Fernando challenges the traditional ideas that inform practice in clinical psychology and psychiatry in order to promote new and alternative ways of thinking. Covering both theoretical perspectives and practical implications, this insightful text discusses perceptions of ethnicity and identity, compares practices around the world and looks at racism in mental health services. Topics new to the third edition include:

  • Trauma and psychosocial support
  • The new discourses in mental health of recovery, spirituality and well-being
  • The mental health of refugees
  • Specific developments in low-income countries, including Asia and Afric
  • This fully revised, expanded and updated edition of a seminal text offers students and practitioners alike a comprehensive and reliable study of both western and non-western psychiatry and mental health practices.

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Research and Practice

Cultural differences in mental health?Are mental health problems the same the world over? Dr Jonathan Leach (Faculty of Health and Social Care), Open University, 2013

Twelve Critical Issues for Mental Health Professionals Working with Ethno-Culturally Diverse Populations American Psychological Society, 2011, Dr. Anthony Marsella outlines some of the issues and dimensions that psychologists must consider when encountering ethno-cultural diversity.Our global era increasingly brings together ethno-culturally diverse individuals, families, communities, and nations that differ in religion, economy, beliefs, and histories. Often, these groups also come together under conditions that are plagued by anger, fear, and distrust. Mental health services are the crucible in which many of the issues different groups face must be addressed. Services occur in a broad arena of settings, including hospitals, clinics, courts, prisons, police forces, schools, and workplaces. It is essential that all parties involved in the delivery of mental health services recognize the critical issues that must be considered when encountering international, ethno-cultural diversity.

Cultural Awareness Tool: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Mental Health 2002 West Australian Transcultural Mental Health Centre, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners WA Research Unit, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and Multicultural Mental Health Australia. The tool consists of a small booklet and accompanying hand-held card. Although it does not attempt to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of culturally sensitive care, it is designed as a first step in developing cultural competence. Based on usage of this tool, our hope is that health and mental health practitioners will further develop their own knowledge concerning culturally-sensitive care. The ‘pocket-size’ card contains questions designed to elicit the client’s explanatory model of their illness and medical encounter, and how the patient’s cultural background affects their health beliefs and behaviours. Background information regarding the rationale for using the card is provided in the booklet.

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Videos and Presentations

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Organisations

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Links

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