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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2009): Mental health services - overseas

Mental health across cultures: a practical guide for health professionals

J. Benson and J. Thistlethwaite

Oxford: Radcliffe, 2009

Every health professional interacts with patients from different cultures to their own, not just those from different countries, ethnic or religious groups, but also those with cultural differences due to sexual orientation, lifestyle, beliefs, age, gender, social status or perceived economic worth. The potential for confusions in communication and consequent problems are even greater in primary care mental health than in other areas. This guide provides a model for working in mental health care across cultures, and outlines practical ways of using psychotherapy skills across cultures. It can be used as personal preparation by individuals in any primary care setting at home or abroad, or as a teaching tool for use with health professionals travelling to another culture, including overseas aid workers and those moving to a new country.

Planning for district mental health services in South Africa: a situational analysis of a rural district site

I. Petersen and others

Health Policy and Planning, vol. 24, 2009, p.140-150

In the context of commitment to universal primary health care and a prevailing human rights agenda, South Africa has embarked on a programme of decentralisation of mental health services to district level, as set out in the Mental Health Care Act of 2002 and the 1997 White Paper on transformation of the health system. Using a case study of a typical rural area in South Africa, this analysis provides grounded information on the progress of deinstitutionalisation and the integration of mental health services into primary care. Findings suggest that mental health services remain primarily focused on the emergency management of psychiatric patients and ongoing psychopharmacological care of patients with chronic stabilised mental disorders.

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