Supporting students of diverse cultures and faiths - experiences from a university perspective
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AbstractBackground: University of Bedfordshire is a large University with over 24000 students from over 100 countries. The main religions recorded are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jewish and Sikhism amongst others. Around 45% of them do not have any recorded religion. The Mental Health Advisor will come across a wide range of students from different backgrounds each with their own unique presentation of mental health distress. It is well known that people of different communities and cultures experience signs and symptoms of mental distress in different ways. This is very important for clinicians to be aware of the nuances around cultures and traditions in the context of mental illness in order to assist clinicians more accurately diagnose, support and manage them. In an effort to improve diagnosis and care to people of all backgrounds, the 5th edition of the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) incorporates a greater cultural sensitivity throughout the manual. This includes a reflection of crosscultural variations in presentations and cultural concepts of distress. Role of the Mental Health Advisor: The mental Health Advisor is available to help with practical support to assist students to manage their mental health and study. This includes support with an initial assessment, structures support, assisting with making reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act (2010), support students to access Disabled Student's Allowances and reasonable adjustments to enable them to study effectively and achieve their potential and where necessary, making appropriate referrals to internal and/or external services. One of the main roles of the advisor is to support students with mental health difficulties which are impacting on their studies. This support may include anxiety management, motivation, relaxation techniques, study plans and understanding the impact of medication. Discussion: This paper will look at some of the experiences faced by the mental health advisor and will also reflect on understanding the finer nuances of cultural aspects of mental health in different student communities. This paper will also reflect on the learning gained by these experiences which will help better support and assist the student population at the University of Bedfordshire.
CitationGale J, Thalitaya M (2017) 'Supporting students of diverse cultures and faiths - experiences from a university perspective', Psychiatria Danubina, 29(Suppl 3):521-523.
PublisherMedicinska Naklada Zagreb
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