Culture and the Restructuring of Community Mental Health

Culture and the Restructuring of Community Mental Health

Culture and the Restructuring of Community Mental Health

Culture and the Restructuring of Community Mental Health

Synopsis

Vega and Murphy examine treatment, organizational planning, and research issues and offer a critique of the theoretical and programmatic aspects of providing mental health services to traditionally underserved populations. Focusing on minority groups, the book uses the case of Hispanics to illustrate the largely-unaddressed need for services that are relevant to groups with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This discussion of the requirements for a socially responsible and community-based services delivery program lays the theoretical foundation for a future mental health system.

Excerpt

A truly revolutionary period of experimentation with community-based intervention is underway in general medicine. Significant studies have been funded to determine how best to approach communities and specific cultural groups with various types of health interventions. For example, persons are learning how to detect breast anomalies, lower the risk of coronary heart disease, quit smoking, and monitor diabetes. Programs such as these are formulated currently as field trials that utilize multiple methods of community entry. Their common goal is to determine the types of approaches that produce desired health behaviors in specific communities and among linguistically diverse ethnic groups. Although there remains some skepticism regarding their efficacy within the medical community, there is a general appreciation that this type of experimentation will require time, resources, and cultural sensitivity to succeed. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that the results will justify the effort.

In contrast to this experience, neither the will nor the technology has been forthcoming in psychiatry to launch community-based experiments similar to those seen in general medicine. Why? The reasons are far-reaching, and extend to the core of the dilemma faced by the mental health field as a science and public health discipline. This chapter will assess critically the array of issues responsible for the general retreat of psychiatry from community intervention.

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