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Culture and Global Mental Health 

Culture and Global Mental Health
Culture and Global Mental Health

Laurence J. Kirmayer

and Leslie Swartz

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date: 23 June 2021

This chapter provides an overview of the relevance of cultural psychiatry for global mental health. Culture plays a central role in the social determinants of mental health and strategies for mental health promotion and effective mental health services for several reasons: i) along with socioeconomic disparities and multiple forms of discrimination, cultural differences and associated ethnic and racialized categories are associated with significant health disparities in most societies; ii) culture influences the symptomatology, course and outcome of disorders through developmental and interpersonal effects on psychophysiological and cognitive-interpretive processes; iii) cultural shapes both individual and family coping and adaptation to illness and recovery; iv) cultural models of illness determine help-seeking pathways and clinical presentations of mental health problems; v) cultural values and assumptions undergird the clinician-patient relationship and hence the response to medical advice and intervention; and vi) cultureplays a central role in health policy and practice by framing the values, alternatives, and outcomes that inform health care. Particular attention is given to conceptual issues of cross-cultural applicability of diagnostic constructs, the use of interpreters, research strategies and the significance of culture as a human rights issue.

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