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Cross-cultural Perspectives in Mental Health

A Learning and Development Day

5 September 2007

Eastern Pearl Conference Centre, Manchester

About the conference
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.

What happens when an individual who believes they are possessed by jinn (spirit) is considered by mental health professionals to be psychotic and is treated with medication as opposed to by a spiritual healer? Is the outcome the same for the individual whether they are treated by a spiritual healer or by anti psychotic medication? To what extent do and can mental health professionals practising within the Western biomedical model work collaboratively with spiritual healers?

What is the best way to treat an individual who believes they have been affected by the “evil eye”?  Should the individual seek help from a healer? Should they be prescribed anti depressants and/or offered psychological therapy such as CBT?  

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?

 Aims of the Day:

·         To Critically explore the relationship between culture and mental health within BME Communities

·         To consider racism, discrimination, and prejudice and their effects on mental health

·         To consider alternatives to  the medical model of care

 Who should attend? 

·         NHS and  Independent Mental Health Professionals

·         Psychologists, Counsellors

·         Community  Health Service  Providers

·         Voluntary Sector Agencies

·         Social Service  Departments

·         Policy makers, academics.


Professor Suman Fernando, Hon. Senior Lecturer in Mental Health , European Centre for Migration & Social Care (MASC) , University of Kent at Canterbury. Visiting Professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University 
                                                                      Cultural diversity, Identity and Spirituality – an overview”“

Professor Malik Badri

Higher Education Commission Professor of Psychology (HEC Professor)

Faculty of Social Sciences, New Campus International Islamic University of Islamabad, Islamabad, Pakistan
                                     The qalb (heart), the role of was-wasah (whispers) and psycho-spiritual therapy”

Julianne Boutaleb
Lead Psychologist ,Early Start Community Psychology Team, Working collaboratively with Muslim mothers with postnatal depression
                                                      Psycho-education for Muslim families: challenges and opportunities”

Professor Lena Robinson

School of Social Sciences, University of Paisley, Paisley.
                                                                                          Revisiting Black perspectives in Psychology”



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