Culture and Mental Health: Intercultural Perspectives in Mental Health is a conference to be held on 3 September 2007 at The Resource Centre 356 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA.
Mental distress or “madness” is recognised worldwide. However, culture influences the presentation and meaning individuals, family members and community members give to experiences and matters to do with the mind. In one culture mental distress may be seen as a result of demonic possession or as a result of the effects of witchcraft or sorcery requiring spiritual healing. In another cultural context it may be seen as a result of genetically inherited disease such as schizophrenia requiring administration of anti psychotic medication.
Where different cultures have divergent meaning systems, what counts as a symptom and what do the symptoms signify? Are the notions derived from some cultures given less value because of racism or cultural arrogance? Are mental health services equipped to deal with the diverse definitions of what constitutes a ‘problem’ and ‘treatment? How universally applicable is Western biomedical disease medicine? Does one size really fit us all? To what extent are psychological therapies such as psychotherapy which promote an individualised notion of the self applicable across all cultures?
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