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Title: An exploration of the relevance of culture in understanding beliefs, attitudes and behaviour related to mental health in a group of Congolese refugees
Author: Pearce, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2687 4582
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2009
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This qualitative study explored the views of Congolese refugees on mental health problems, causes, help seeking, treatment and prevention. The main aims were first, to provide a formal account of mental health beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of Congolese refugees; second, to explore the relevance of cultural values, beliefs and traditions to the self-regulatory model; and third, to consider how this might inform attempts to provide culturally sensitive services and overcome health inequalities. Eight Congolese refugees completed semi-structured interviews and findings showed strong similarities to the literature examining mental health beliefs in sub- Saharan African cultural groups. The socio-cultural context was implicated in the cause and treatment of mental illness and some culturally specified symptoms emerged. There was emphasis on the collective rather than the self in taking responsibility in the identification of mental illness, accessing treatment, and providing care. Barriers to accessing mental health services echoed existing research with refugee groups. Hofstede's cultural dimensions provided new ways of understanding expectations of services. Additional findings emerged with respect to the impact of political violence and displacement on mental well-being. Trauma-related distress was regarded by participants as conceptually distinct from mental illness, which may partly be accounted for by the cultural dimension uncertainty avoidance, indicating `all or nothing' understandings about mental illness and mental health. The individualistic cultural dimension of the UK was negatively experienced by this group and the importance of relatedness to mental well-being was emphasized.The results of the current study facilitated critique of existing models from different theoretical paradigmsi ncluding illness representations,r efugee mental health and cross-cultural psychology. An integrated framework for including cultural beliefs, values and traditions and illness representationsin formulating mental health in a cross-cultural context is proposed. The potential wider relevance of these ideas was raised given the failure of mental health services to provide for the needs of people from BME groups.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: D.Clin.Psychol Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available