November 30, 2007

Perspectives of Mental Illness Vary With Cultural Backgrounds?

We have covered several past stories that discuss the way in which varied cultural perspectives of mental illness influence treatment. Now a new research study published in next month's issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, further supports this idea.

Recently, treatment of mental illness has shifted toward a collaborative effort between patient and practitioner. As a result, the understanding of a patient's perspective on his or her illness is essential to treatment. The study attempts to understand the different cultural backgrounds of patients and how they influence their unique perspectives of their illnesses. The goal is to aid the treatment of mental illness through a deeper understanding of patients and their diverse cultural backgrounds.

The study involved observation of 25 participants from various ethnic backgrounds, with the following characteristics: they suffered from long-term mental illness, were residents of inner cities and unemployed. The study lasted for 18 months, during which participants interacted with ethnographers in real-life settings where the ethnographers conversed with and informally interviewed participants.

The data the ethnographers collected revealed that participants' views of their mental illness varied by ethnic group. This lead researchers to conclude that communication between patient and practitioner is essential to successful treatment:

To develop a working therapeutic partnership with clients, mental health service providers must become aware through context-sensitive, context-informed dialog of the differences in how individual clients "en-story," communicate, and experience their illnesses.

This research brings up the important point of sharing your view of your mental illness with your mental health professional(s): Communication between patient and practitioner seems essential to coming up with successful treatment. Further, communication between friends and family members may also aid their understanding of a sufferer's personal perspective on mental illness.

Ethnocultural Variations in Mental Illness Discourse: Some Implications for Building Therapeutic Alliances. (Psychiatric Services)

Related Reading:
Social Factors and How They Influence the Development of Schizophrenia
Mental Health System and Racism
Risk for Schizophrenia Associated With Race


This is an interesting interaction here.

Posted by: donna at December 1, 2007 01:09 PM

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