Culture plays a significant role when it comes to an individual’s influences and beliefs, as well as identifying your values and upbringing. Being immersed in another culture may conflict with an individual’s beliefs which can create tension. An example of a clash of cultures is demonstrated with how Western culture versus Native American culture both deal with overall health. Western culture is highly relied on technology to create more science based treatments. On the other hand, Native American culture is highly dependent on natural remedies as well having spiritual energies along side with strong community engagement. Additionally, the history behind Western and Native Americans has developed historical trauma which can create hesitancy when merging both parties.
From the film, Culture Matters: Indigenous Perspectives on Behavioral Health, the documentary highlighted the importance of integrating Native American, Alaska Native and Pacific Islander culture in behavioral health care programs. A characteristic that was lacking in Western practices when providing assistance to these indigenous populations was cultural incompetency. “Understanding the unique life experiences of those you serve and the transformative power in healing that can come from reconnecting with one’s culture was a fundamental principle” (8:02-8:13). Native American and Pacific Islander cultures have been very community based and tight-knit. Passing down traditions and practices to multiple generations, the indigenous groups value preserving their culture. “It’s important to understand that services for indigenous communities are often part of a broader nation-building context. That is, services are not merely services, they’re part of what’s needed to build strong nations and futures for indigenous and Native people'' (14:40-14:57). Overall, health care providers and programs should be more aware about cultural differences in the communities they serve. “... the most effective way to work with American Indian people, generally speaking, is when we’re utilizing traditional philosophies in our own language and our own perspectives with the best of what modern medicine has to offer” (23:22-23:34). Finding a balance between modern medicine and respecting traditional cultural practices is what we should strive for.
This week’s TED talk Mental Health for All by Involving All with Vikram Patel, piqued my interest regarding affordable mental health assets. “Mental illnesses are amongst the leading causes of disabilities around the world. Depression, for example, is the third leading cause of disability …” (1:57-2:06). With mental illness having one of the largest disability rates worldwide, Patel addresses the scarce shortage of mental health professionals, especially in developing countries. He then introduces the idea of task shifting as a means of assistance. Task shifting is when ordinary people are trained to provide care in a range of health care interventions when their community is short staffed with specialized health care professionals. Patel created an acronym that highlighted the key lessons for effective task shifting: SUNDAR, meaning ‘attractive’ in Hindi. Simplify the message, UNpack the treatment, Deliver it to where people are, Affordable and available human resources and Reallocation of specialists to train and supervise. This idea caught my attention because not only is task shifting more accessible and affordable but also fundamentally empowering, giving people the opportunity to care about the health for others in their community.
The WHO’s infographic on Global Mental Health ties in cohesively with Patel’s TED talk. The infographic showcases the shortage of mental health care providers and lack of services provided worldwide. The human resources statistics stood out to me regarding that “Only 1% of the global health workforce works in mental health” and “45% of the world’s population live in a country with less than one psychiatrist for 100,000 people” (WHO, 2015). More specifically, the U.S. has 4.3 nurses and 10.5 psychiatrists working in a mental health sector in comparison to Canada which has 68.7 nurses and 14.7 psychiatrists (WHO, 2016). This contrasting difference between Canada and the U.S. shows that even in developed countries, there is a lack of attention based around mental health care providers and assets.
Wide Angle Studios, (August 11, 2011). Culture Matters: Indigenous Perspectives on Behavioral Health [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=yfdCaFEls_c&feature=emb_logo.
TED, (September 11, 2012). Mental Health for All by Involving All | Vikram Patel | TED Talks [Video File] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzm4gpAKrBk.
WHO, (2015). Global Mental Health [Infographic].
WHO, (2016). Psychiatrists and nurses working in mental health sector (per 100 000 population), 2014-2016. Retrieved from http://gamapserver.who.int/gho/interactive_charts/mental_health/psychiatrists_nurses/atlas.html.