Culture includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by people as members of society. Cultural competence is the capacity for people to increase their knowledge and understanding of cultural differences, the ability to acknowledge cultural assumptions and biases, and the willingness to make changes in thought and behavior to address those biases. Cultural factors may impact behaviors such as communication styles, diet preferences, health beliefs, family roles, lifestyle, rituals and decision making processes.
All of these beliefs and practices can influence how patient and health care professionals perceive health and illness and how they interact with one another.
The Transcultural Mental Health Professional Code:
It is not an 8-5 job. It is a way of life.
It is a world view rooted in empathy, justice and conscience.
It is committed to diversity, social justice and activism.
It is concerned with promoting and optimizing communication and understanding across ethnocultural boundaries.
It is concerned with empowering individuals, groups and cultures.
It is concerned with offering hope, opportunity and optimism to patients in need.
It is concerned with addressing major societal problems including poverty, oppression, racism, sexism, violence, abuse and inequality. It locates these problems within the societal contexts in which they are generated, empowered and sustained.
It is ecological, historical, interactional and contextual.
It acknowledges the complexity of problems and encourages multicultural, multidisciplinary, multi-sectorial and multinational understanding and action.
It is political, revolutionary and progressive. Injustice is neither tolerated nor accepted.
[from Twelve Critical Issues for Mental Health Professionals Working with Ethnoculturally Diverse Populations, by Anthony J. Marsella, PhD, published by Psychology International, October, 2011]