Multicultural Awareness and Mental Health Practices
In order to truly understand individuals that therapists work with, one must recognize many multi-cultural variables such as race, culture, gender, religion, sexual orientation, language and many more. Multi-cultural psychology or the multicultural model of human behavior encompasses more than issues concerning race, ethnicity or sexual orientation factors; it also includes socioeconomic status, gender, physical disabilities, language, etc. (Sue et al., 2003).
The multicultural model of human behavior emphasizes how one’s cultural context affects the manifestation of mental illness. Mental illness or abnormal behavior may manifest itself due to the oppression of specific diverse populations and culture conflicts.
Proponents of this model believe that race, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious preferences, socioeconomic status, physical disabilities and other factors are all powerful influences in determining how specific cultural groups manifest disorders and how mental health professional perceive and treat the disorders (Sue et al., 2003).
Mental health professionals must be up to date with their knowledge and skills on multicultural assessment and intervention which include the following: 1) recognize cultural diversity, 2) understand the role that culture and ethnicity/race play in the sociopsychological and economical development of ethnic and culturally diverse populations, 3) understand that socioeconomic and political factors significantly impact the psychosocial, political, and economic development of ethnic and culturally diverse groups and 4) help clients to understand/maintain/resolve/ their own sociocultural identification; and understand the interaction of culture, gender, and sexual orientation on behavior and needs (APA, 1990).
Sue, D., Sue, D.W., Sue, S. (2003). Understanding abnormal behavior (7th Ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Dr. Alessandra Sax