Mental health assessment and south Asian men
Bhui K., Chandran M., Sathyamoorthy G.
Mental health services are now required to provide culturally appropriate levels of care, but statutory services have difficulties providing multi-cultural effective services. There has been a vacuum in the understanding of what constitutes culturally appropriate mental health assessment for Asian men. This study provides exploratory data on (i) current assessment procedures applied by different agencies and professionals providing mental health services and (ii) Asian men's experience of the mental health assessments. Mental health providers and male south Asian service users in south London were approached. We interviewed three mental health professionals and eight south Asian men who were using mental health services. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted, and the interview recorded, transcribed and subjected to a content analysis. We identifed Asian men's and mental health professionals' views about the adequacy of current assessment procedures. Cultural issues including religious beliefs were rarely discussed with Asian men in distress, where such discussions were considered by the men to be potentially helpful in their assessment. Cultural beliefs influenced coping styles, but these were rarely assessed. Asian men appeared not to understand the nature of their diagnosis and the rationale for treatment, some perceiving their treatment as authoritarian and disrespectful. Mental health service providers should develop more effective and comprehensive assessment procedures which include the assessment of culturally grounded health beliefs and expectations as well as religious issues.