Cultural Competence Is Not Optional

By Gadit, Amin A. Muhammad | Clinical Psychiatry News, October 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Cultural Competence Is Not Optional

Gadit, Amin A. Muhammad, Clinical Psychiatry News

Increasingly, we are becoming aware of the prevalence of mental health problems around the globe. Depression--a major public health issue--has reached alarming proportions, and other mental illnesses are taking a toll on our patients in terms of morbidity and mortality.

Quoting a study published by the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the Lancet points out that each year, "up to 30% of the population worldwide has some form of mental disorder, and at least two-thirds of those people receive no treatment" (Lancet 2007 Sept. 3 [Epub doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61242-2]).

Given this, it seems to me that World Mental Health Day--which is aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues around the world and is commemorated in October by the World Federation for Mental Health--has added significance. This year's theme is related to the effects of culture and diversity on mental health.

Culture, which encompasses belief systems, ethnicity, language, and expressions, plays an important role in mental health. A behavior deemed abnormal in one culture may not be so in another.

All of our patients have a vocabulary for expressing different symptoms. However, that language might not be interpreted properly if the treating psychiatrist is not well versed with the individual's background. There are many culture-bound syndromes, for example, some of which are mentioned in the classification systems, and more new ones are fast emerging. Recent migration trends, mainly from the developing to the developed countries, have presented a huge challenge for the host countries when it comes to addressing mental health problems.

Migration often is associated with many social problems, such as a decrease in socioeconomic status; lack of recognition of overseas qualifications, including educational and employment experiences; low levels of language learning and proficiency; social isolation and support; prejudice and discrimination by the host population; stress prior to or during migration; and culture shock and nostalgia. The data show that such problems more seriously affect women and younger individuals, and that the stress associated with these problems can result in mental illness. It is becoming more imperative that the health authorities deal with and understand these cultural issues and their undercurrents.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Cultural Competence Is Not Optional


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?