Monday 22 February 2010

Culture and Diversity in Member Care—Part 2

Mental Health for All

Up into the cherry tree
Who should climb but little me?
I held the trunk with both my hands
And looked abroad on foreign lands.
Robert Louis Stevenson

We are reviewing materials that promote understanding, respect, and competency regarding human diversity and multicultural settings. One of the most outstanding resources we know is a book written to practically help health care workers in almost any setting around the world—Where There is No Psychiatrist. Member care workers and all those with member care responsibility, regardless of their mental health backgrounds, will also find this manual to be very helpful and at times probably even fascinating!

Think of this as a reference tool to better support the well-being of mission/aid personnel. Think of it also as a tool for mission/aid workers to get a better understanding of common mental health problems that can affect the variety of people with whom they work.

Where There Is No Psychiatrist: A Mental Health Care Manual (by Vikram Patel, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2003) Summary below and purchase information is from Teaching-Aids at Low Cost (TALC). You can also preview this book at Google Books.

“After giving the reader a basic understanding of mental illness, the book goes on to describe more than 30 clinical problems associated with mental illness, and uses a problem-solving approach to guide readers through their assessment and management. There is also a section which contains quick reference information for common problems. The manual is divided into four sections with the first giving an overview of mental illness and dealing with the different types of mental disorders using a simple classification; the second deals with clinical problems including a chapter on the most disturbing and worrying clinical problems that you will encounter, the third covers integrating mental health and considers how mental health can be promoted in the community, the fourth discusses localising the manual for your area and accessing resources.”

Reflection and Discussion
1. Recall a cross-cultural situation in which you were trying to help a person with mental health needs. What helped and what did not help?

2. List three basic principles for helping someone from another culture who seems to be struggling with some type of life problem.

3. How might you approach someone who is struggling with a problem if this person were a colleague, or a neighbour, or a student/person you were training?

4. How could some of the materials in Where There Is No Psychiatrist be used to further train people in your organization/setting? Who would specifically benefit from going through this training?

5. List a couple ethical considerations when using the materials in this book in cross-cultural settings.

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