Monday 15 February 2010

Culture and Diversity in Member Care—Part 1

Mental Health in a Diverse World

I met a little Elf man once, down where the lilies blow.
I asked him why he was so small, and why he did not grow.
He slightly frowned, and with his eye, he looked me thru and thru.
"I'm quite as big for me," said he, "as you are big for you."
John Kendrick Bangs
The next eight entries on diversity and culture describe important resources for good member care practice. The resources are primarily from the mental health fields and reflect the growing mental health movement around the world. We encourage you to go online to download and/or purchase some of these resources. They are designed to promote understanding, respect, and competency regarding human variation and multicultural settings.

The materials in these entries are meant to complement the practical knowledge that we all acquire from connecting with others from different backgrounds and cultures. The capacity for greater cultural understanding is available in our very own culture(s) too. As Pierre Casse says in Training for the Cross-Cultural Mind “There is no need for you and me to go around the world to search for some type of cross-cultural adventure. Just stay where you are. Talk and listen to the person next to you.” (1981, x). For those of us working in multicultural settings, this type of basic “training experience” can be all the more valuable when we simply take the time to interact with the person next to us.

We have also found it invaluable to learn from multicultural mentors/friends and to stay in regular touch with international media/issues (examples are in the Media that Matters section on the Member Caravan website). For us, developing competency in human diversity and multicultural settings, at its core, is part of life-long learning. It involves first-hand experience, intentional study, curiosity about others, and a mindset that appreciates human variation.

What’s Ahead--The Lineup
Part One: Overview (Culture and Diversity in a Changing World by the World Federation of Mental Health)
Part Two: M etal Health for All (Where There is No Psychiatrist: A Mental Health Care Manual by Vikram Patel)
Part Three: Cultural Sensitizers for Good Practice (Culture and the Clinical Encounter: An Intercultural Sensitizer for the Health Professions by Rena Gropper)
Part Four: Well-Being for All (No Health Without Mental Health by World Health Organization)
Part Five: Resolutions--Multicultural Compentency (Resolution on Culture and Gender Awareness by the American Psychological Association)
Part Six: Global Mental Health--Issues and Interviews (Various inverviews from Global Health TV)
Part Seven:  International Cases--Understanding the Divertsity of Disorders (Cultural Formulation/Culture Bound Symdromes and International Cases, from DSM IV TR and DSM IV Casebook)
Part Eight: Summary
This resource below is available to download for free.
We encourage you to study it and discuss it with others.

World Mental Health Day 2007
World Federation of Mental Health
Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish
Click on the title/link above for the full version.

"There are approximately 6.5 billion people living on planet Earth. Within that number, there are more people living outside their country of origin than at any other time in history. One person out of 35 is an international migrant — 3% of the global population. If we look at our world to-day, is there any single culture, race or religion that is 100% contained in one single country? We can find dramatically different languages, religions, family relationships and values, as well as views on health care and treatment wherever we go, including in our own respective countries. A female mental health professional born and trained in India may have moved to the United Kingdom and is seeing a male client born and raised in Ecuador — how do they communicate and how do each view the same mental illness?”

“Culture may influence many aspects of mental health, including how individuals from a given culture communicate and manifest their symptoms, their style of coping, their family and com-munity supports, and their willingness to seek treatment. Likewise, the cultures of the clinician and the service system influence diagnosis, treatment, and service delivery. Cultural and social influences are not the only determinants of mental illness and patterns of service use, but they do play important roles.”

“In the mental health care setting, culture impacts how people:
• Label and communicate distress
• Explain the causes of mental health problems
• Perceive mental health providers
• Utilize and respond to mental health treatment."

Reflection and Discussion
1. What were some of your first cross-cultural experiences?
Were any like the one described in the opening poem, The Little Elf?

2. List a few ways that you have developed your cross-cultural skills.
Which ones have been the most enjoyable and why?

3. With which cultures are you most familiar?
Which culture/nation would you really like to learn a lot more about?

4. How do you continue to grow in your work in multicultural settings?
What roles do the media and movies have for you?

5. Which of the topics in the above resource interest you the most (World Federation for Mental Health)?
Are there any parts that you would want to adjust or further develop?

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