In the article “Migration, cultural bereavement, and cultural identity,” scholars Dinesh Bhugra and Matthew A. Becker discuss the central topic of the improper diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses amongst migrants. In discussing this topic, they go on to suggest that many migrants are misdiagnosed and receive ineffective treatment due to the lack of knowledge by clinicians to truly understand the various factors surrounding migration. The main questions center around what those factors are and just what is involved in regard to the lives of migrants. It is suggested that many factors that contribute to mental illnesses play roles during three main stages for migrants: pre-migration, migration, and post-migration.
First the authors let the reader know that many healthcare practitioners work with a variety of people, and most of those people come from backgrounds of varying cultures. Although the patients are different, it is often overlooked that they have differing needs based on their experiences and cultural background. This is problematic, especially in the fields dealing with mental health because the majority of healthcare practices that deal with the treatment of mental illness are based on Western perspectives. In order to break free of relying solely on Western perspectives, the authors suggest that mental health clinicians consider life through the lens of the migrant perspective. It is suggested that determining the mental state of migrants can be ambiguous because several factors are at play that are rarely considered by the Western perspective, “The complex interplay of the migration process, cultural bereavement, cultural identity, and cultural congruity, along with biological, psychological and social factors, is hypothesized as playing a major role …” (Bhugra and Becker 18).
In order to support these claims, statistics are presented regarding the increase in migration, particularly from 1999 to 2001 in the United Kingdom. This information is taken from the census during those prior years. In addition to presenting the increase of migration, Bhugra also examines case studies and hypothesis arguments that suggest a correlation between migrants and mental illnesses. Later in the article, the authors examine cultural bereavement and the symptoms surrounding it. The symptoms incorporate depression, anxiety, and more that are found in medical texts such as the DSM-IV that the authors mention, “These symptoms are based on a Western construct for the diagnosis of abnormal grief and as such do not take into account different cultural expressions of grief” (Bhugra and Becker 20). Case study interviews of actual refugees also back up these claims. In backing claims that learning about cultural identity makes a difference in successfully treating migrants, Bhugra’s research is once again referenced in his writings about the social aspects of migration. In reference to cultural congruity, the author presents case studies from London and other areas to show that social support plays a crucial factor in the mental state of migrants during the post-migration phase.
This selected article is convincing because it references a wide range of data and statics to back up its main points and claims. This makes the text believable; however, it does leave room for some skepticism because the primary data and statistics are limited to the United Kingdom. Perhaps this would be more convincing and hold more validity if other countries were factored into the case studies and statistical data. It may even provide more insight because of a less limited scope. Nevertheless, this article is still interesting because it holds much truth. This information has the potential to spur change in my community’s mental healthcare. Since individuals in my community are unique, treatments should be unique to fit them as well, and this can only be done with truly learning and understanding who is being treated on a social and cultural level.
- Bhugra, Dinesh, and Matthew A. Becker. “Migration, Cultural Bereavement and Cultural Identity.” World Psychiatry, vol. 4, no. 1, 2005, pp. 18-24. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1414713/