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Mental health is not a personal matter as it goes beyond the individual. Societal, biological and psychological factors are often in play in mental health matters. Often the influence and contribution of societal factors are often ignored. The diversity aspect in society is embedded within the different cultures and backgrounds that shape people’s experiences. It has been noted that culture influences the extent of symptoms and the sick roles and the resulting illness behaviours (Kanchana & Sangamesh, 2016). Understanding this is necessary to present appropriate therapies and treatment plans customized for different individuals.
Contemporary society is diverse and is composed of people from different cultures who differ in their world views and beliefs towards mental health. Some cultures embrace religious approach in addressing mental health. Others are wholly into scientific mechanisms, while others embrace a holistic approach. Again, there are different care systems that individuals prefer to subscribe to, such as professional care. There is also a self-treatment system, and the generic or traditional care system (Andres & Boyle, 2016). The influence of culture and society is, therefore, undoubtedly diverse.
Culture determines the outcomes of mental illnesses with respect to the diversity of experiences. How individuals present and describe, their symptoms tend to be shaped by their culture. For instance, one may choose only to describe physical symptoms and leave out on emotional symptoms or vice versa. Some patients will often start by reporting somatic symptoms. They can present their emotional afflictions last, and this is if they are probed further. The bottom-line is that people tend to be selective in an attempt to present what they culturally believe will not reflect badly on them. Another thing is that different cultures offer varying significance and concern about mental health and related illnesses. This means that there those who may fail to respond effectively to cases of mental (Andres & Boyle, 2016). Therefore, it is not a wonder to find that mental illnesses tend to be more prevalent in some societies and cultures than others.
Cultural belief systems influence a collective view and characteristics and how people draw meaning on prevailing issues. Cultures that subscribe to magico-religious beliefs associate occurrences around them to be as a result of supernatural forces. People are seen to be under the mercy of these forces. Those whose beliefs are founded on magic, and voodoo believe they can use supernatural powers to protect themselves from other supernatural forces (Andres & Boyle, 2016). They may tend to associate mental illness with such powers. In an attempt to address mental illness, they also invoke those forces.
Another cultural group is that which upholds the scientific, or biomedical paradigm. Here, life is seen to be under the influence of physical and biochemical processes that people can study, understand and even manipulate them. Natural sciences are used in this model to explore and explain aspects of health. Issues of psychological and emotional changes under this paradigm can be studied and intercepted. Most Western cultures operate along with the above understanding. Lastly, there is a culture that follows the holistic health paradigm. According to this world view popular with Indian cultures in America and Asia, nature has forces that have to be balanced (Andres & Boyle, 2016). Human life is seen as only a part of nature. Any disturbance on some of the forces presents imbalance, which can be manifested in chaos and diseases.
Transcultural mental health nurses need to have aware and be knowledgeable about the different cultures they serve. This not only removes rigidity but also presents an opportunity to employ a mix of care delivery customized for individual patients. With a full understanding of diverse cultural backgrounds, transcultural mental health nurses can handle their job well (Kanchana & Sangamesh, 2016). They will be able to make a correct diagnosis, offer appropriate treatment for culturally congruent care.
My cultural values and perspective on mental health care are founded on Christianity. Still, I respect the scientific understanding of mental health. I believe that in players and that God has the power to heal. At the same time, I believe God gives us knowledge, and scientific knowledge is Godly. Therefore, it would be normal for me to pray and at the same time, seek medical for mental health issues. My approach is different from individuals from cultures who do not believe in religion; for instance, those who pure observe the biomedical paradigm. According to Andrea and Boyle (2016), biomedical model health care caries has the solution to mental health. An individual observing the biomedical paradigm may not go beyond scientifically accepted methods of addressing mental health.
One important communication skill necessary to promote culturally competent mental health care is listening. A nurse should be able to give attention to every detail presented by the patient. This is in order to understand the message and to note every emotion that is accompanying the message. Secondly, it is appropriate to have a positive verbal and non-verbal approach. This serves to encourage the patient in their communication (Andres & Boyle, 2016). Thirdly, it is necessary to ask necessary questions which help to understand the patient’s culture and their specific issues. It is also important to be able to assess a patient through the target language without making any assumption for the interaction to be fruitful. Lastly, communication needs to be clear using gestures and symbols where necessary (Lopes Campelo et al., 2018). Above all, the nurse or clinician needs to be sensitive to the beliefs and practices throughout a session.
Andres, A.M. & Bolye, J.S. (2016). Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care (7th ed.). ISBN 978-1-4511-9397-8
Kanchana, M. N., & Sangamesh, N. (2016). Transcultural nursing: Importance in nursing practice. International Journal of Nursing Education, 8(1), 135-138.
Lopes Campelo, C., Alves de Sousa, S. D. M., Carvalho Silva, L. D., Dias, R. S., Ribeiro Azevedo, P., Oliveira Nunes, F. D., & de Souza Paiva, S. (2018). PATIENT SAFETY CULTURE AND THE CULTURAL NURSING CARE. Journal of Nursing UFPE/Revista de Enfermagem UFPE, 12(9).