Sudha Chavda. Hillingdon
Part 3

Culture and concepts of mental illness

Because of all the stresses already mentioned we might suppose that minority groups would all have high rates of mental disorder. This is not the case. A person who is distressed or cannot cope only becomes a psychiatric patient if he or she produces symptoms that are not only abnormal but fall into the particular category that society and medical profession choose to call "illness". When a member of an ethnic minority develops a mental illness, the manifestations MAY be very much the same as in the British -born patient. But they MAY be different, and then there is a danger of misdiagnosis and wrong treatment. A person may behave in ways, which seem odd or bizarre to the practitioner, and lead him to suppose that mental illness is present, when in fact the behaviour is culturally normal or explicable. The cultural background and life experiences of such a client influence his habitual response, reaction to stress, concepts of normality, deviance and illness and attitudes to other people. Different cultures set different boundaries on what is to be regarded as mental illness and what should be done about it. One has to try and understand unfamiliar behavioural problems, due to social or cultural upbringing and which is NOT necessarily evidence of mental illness.

Migration Dislocation The Need to succeed Culture and concepts of mental illness Culture
The control of deviance Cultural differences in attitude to psychiatric treatment
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