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Introduction to Sociocultural Psychiatry 

Introduction to Sociocultural Psychiatry
Chapter:
Introduction to Sociocultural Psychiatry
Author(s):

Nhi-Ha T. Trinh

, Chun-Yi Joey Cheung

, and Justin A. Chen

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190849986.003.0001
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date: 05 March 2021

The shifting demographics of the U.S. population has made the impact of sociocultural factors on patient diagnosis and treatment an increasingly relevant and meaningful topic. As the United States becomes a “majority minority” nation, with no racial/ethnic group having greater than a 50% share of the country’s total population, clinicians will need to better understand the phenomenology and treatment of mental health disorders among diverse populations. This imperative becomes all the more urgent in light of ongoing and persistent disparities in mental health diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes among racial and ethnic groups. In addition, clinicians must recognize that the importance of a nuanced sociocultural understanding is not exclusive to racial and ethnic minorities, but also applies to a variety of other deeply held personal characteristics, including for example, one’s gender, sexuality, and religious/spiritual orientation. A shift from cultural competence to cultural humility is needed to break down barriers between patients and providers and foster deeper understanding, especially in the context of traditional power differentials within health care that have tended to minimize the importance of the patient’s subjective experience. This textbook, and the curriculum on which it is based, represent an endeavor to start these conversations that are so sorely needed in mental health.

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