The Impact of Cultural Beliefs on Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Cultural beliefs play a major role in the diagnosis and treatment of many mental health problems. When people approach the mental health system, they bring with them their values, belief system and cultural background to the treatment encounters. Therefore, the client’s background shapes his/her symptomatology, i.e. the way of presentation of the symptoms. This situation leads to difficulties in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. In many non-Western countries, people use traditional healing system simultanously with the modern health mental systen, thus initating a model of dual use of both systems. This chapter provides background information on cultural beliefs and their impact on behavior, perception, and attitudes toward mental illness, and it also highlights the complex environment in which general health workers practice. It includes case studies from Papua New Guinea, as little is known about the impact that diverse cultural-linguistic beliefs have on culture-specific diagnoses, traditional treatment, and the management of mental health. Mental health practitioners should be aware of the clients’ background in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCulture, Diversity and Mental Health - Enhancing Clinical Practice
EditorsMasood Zangeneh, Alean Al-Krenawi
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-26437-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-26435-2
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Mental Health and Addiction


  • Cultural beliefs
  • Traditional heating system
  • Western mental health
  • Treatment
  • Diagnoses and cultural competence


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