Contemporary society has placed a great emphasis on the factors that cause or effect psychological disorders in individuals. These are the drivers that affect the behaviorism and understanding of individuals with mental conditions and include platforms such as cultural and social norms and how they get reception from the general society. Within the field of psychology, the diagnosis and assessment of psychological disorders are much determined by the alignment of social and cultural norms and its effect on individuals with psychological disorders. This paper looks at the roles that cultural and social norms have in the diagnosis and the assessment of individuals distressed with psychological disorders.
The current psychological diagnostic practice, very different from what was in practice in other quarters of human history and psychological studies, aligns significantly with the impact the individual's society and culture have on the mental stance with the individuals. The cultural core in psychological diagnosis involves the provision of sufficient family data, identified cultural variables, the explanatory models involved, as well as the different weaknesses and strengths of individual patients. As such, psychology in practice embraces the recognition of cultural discordances as the psychological demarcation of mental disorientation, as well as the employment of overhauled cultural formulation. Therefore, the modern study of psychology under the new nomenclature defined by the ICD-11 and the DSM-5 incorporates the various significant fluctuations in the diagnostic modalities, structure, scope, and definition of disorder, functioning level and severity measurement, as well as, the clinical assessment approaches (Alarcon, 2009).
The cultural viewpoint of psychiatric diagnosis, in the recent time, has faced distorted degrees of reception, as well as, the actual implementation despite the uniformity that the top organizations dealing with mental health and psychiatric worldwide have on the deliberation of cultural aspects in the field of clinical psychiatric diagnosis and assessment (Alarcon, 2009). As such, the understanding of how individual culture and social norms have impacted the diagnosis and assessment of psychological disorders helps in the improvement of mental medical services, which responds more to the social and cultural contexts of ethnic and racial minorities. The social context and cultural context, as not the sole factors, have shaped the psychological condition of minorities, dictating the sort of intervention they take to use. As such, the cultural and social diversity between clients and their clinicians, the disintegration of mental services, and clinical bias are the main deterrence factors to obtaining the appropriate intervention. These potentials further intensify according to the trends in the demography of the assortment of cultures in society.
With the extensive diversity in cultural groups, the aspect of culture and individual variations is imperative since it relies upon the individual contribution of ideas in a clinical setting. It can also justify the minor diversities in the way people speak out their psychological symptoms, sieving between the information to share and that to keep secret (US Department of Health and Human Service, 2001).
Other cultural phases do underlie the culture-bound syndromes. These syndromes are cliques of symptoms that are mutual to some societies but miss in others. According to (General, 2001), culture-bond syndrome determines the categorization of symptoms as a form of the disease, as well as the extensive familiarity of the conditions contained by the culture. As such, such conditions are identified and intervened by the traditional medicine understood by the culture.
Another aspect of cultural norms in the diagnosis and assessment of mental disorders is how the cultural norms dictate an individual's indulgence in the psychiatric intervention. According to (US Department of Health and Human Service, 2001), the cultural diversity in the society dictates the willingness of a participant in undertaking psychological intervention, the sort of help to be sought out, the form of coping style to be adapted, the social support involved, as well as, the degree of stigma the society has on mental illness. For instance, the influence that cultural norms have on people is that they get to define the individual meanings individuals have of their conditions. For instance, the end-users of mental well-being services and have their cultures diversely oriented naturally transform this diversity in service settings. As such, the psychiatric officers have to work focusing on their understanding of the cultural gaps between their diverse lines of clientele.
Also, the cultural norms of the service system and that of the psychiatric clinician are valid facets within the medical equation. Such culture norms are the building blocks of the relationship between the client and the clinic offering mental intervention services. As such, such cultural norms employ diagnosis, organizing, treatment, and financing of the services offered. It is sometimes hard to identify the effect of such cultural norms while just interacting with familiar mental services. The difference pops out after experiencing the aesthetic effect after interacting with an unfamiliar culture, especially with the case of immigration.
In the United States of America, mental healthcare is entrenched in Western science and treatment, which accentuate on the scientific objective evidence and inquiry. As such, the self-adjusting topographies of contemporary science, which include; peer reviews, new methods, as well as the exposure to analysis via publications in specialized journals, guarantee the progress of knowledge and thus the replacement of older concepts with the contemporary scientific discoveries in the field. Therefore, the accomplishments of medicine from the west has been considered as the international cornerstone of healthcare. Such a tether gets defined by the cultural norms included in the United States of America's mental health services.
Especially in the United States of America, the diagnosis of mental illness tags along with a great deal of stigmatization depending on the sort of treatment prescribed to the condition (Pescosolido, 2013). This trend has its roots from the 1990s, where the issue of sociology and the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness has been viewed from a paradoxical perspective. In aligning with the social norms, mental illness has been seen to form discrimination and prejudice for participants, as well as their families. Likewise, some people have also viewed the current intervention efforts as the appropriate tool for stigma reduction within the mental healthcare setting.
Social stigma has always been a factor to consider with the therapeutic revolution. It is a facet of society which deteriorates the value of interceptive measures undertaken in mental diagnosis and treatment. As such, stigma, as a negative social role, results in; delays in intervention seeking and the reduction of the likelihood that individuals with mental illnesses receive adequate psychological care (Shrivastava, Johnston & Bureau, 2012). For instance, as mental illness remain a subject to stigmatization, some individuals are inclined not to live, marry, or interact with people with mental conditions. Further, having mental conditions have carried implications on social statuses where some people assume that they are less able or incompetent in performing typical or rising tasks within the day to day life.
With stigma as the central social norm common in society today, its effect reaches the subjects under the stigma leading them to live in isolation while at the same time suffering from the loss of status. It also leads to low life expectancy, degraded education, and at the same time, reducing the educational openings of children suffering from social and behavioral problems (McLeod & Kaiser, 2004).
The diagnostic system, currently employed in mental healthcare, defines the thresholds of mental disorder. The assessment tools involved in the diagnostic can get grounded on a threshold focus, which divides the applicable continuum into problematic behavior and acceptable behavior. The threshold, generally determined by an intelligence test, determines the degree of mental retardation, and how it has affected the socialization of one with the community and the clinicians (Manago, 2015).
Sometimes, individuals may get socially repellent to medical intervention since they may get reluctant to admit about their psychological standpoint. In such instances, the role of social norms for the individual inclines them to seek professional help, which is against the typical perspective in which people suffering from mental illness perceive. For people without mental illness and interacting with such people, the pull from the social norms involved designates them to be encouraging and supportive to people who have a mental illness. As such, this support aids in the reception of professional intervention, as well as limiting the disposal and intensity of the stigma involved with mental illnesses (Manago, 2015).
Expectations from the client and society are also essential factors that underline the assessment and diagnosis of mental disorders. Within the realm of psychological intervention (diagnosis and treatment), the clinicians' social norm of assessing and modifying their client's expectations of the intervention is a core apparatus for change. (Rief & Glombiewski, 2017) Inform that a client's past experiences may counts in their intervention only if it is used as a factor to determine the future of the client. For clinicians under the psychology profession, heightening the expectations of a client who has a mental disorder can be viewed as a social norm provided that the expectations projected to the client are realistic and achievable. Such observations ensure that the client develops self-confidence. Otherwise, the role of heightening client expectations as a social norm for clinicians working as mental health facilitators becomes a negative influence on the client. The degree of negativity becomes apparent after the client further gets to understand that their hopes for a better mental standpoint will never be. Such clients develop suicidal tendencies while at the same time, languish in low self-esteem (Rief & Glombiewski, 2017).
Another universal social norm on the part of the mental health profession is professional confidentiality. The general social norm within any health intervention structure is to keep client information secret from other people. While this remains a choice for many clients with a mental disorder, confidentiality bores trust in the medical clinician and self-esteem for the client. According to (Cordess, 2001), lack of unparalleled disclosure by mental health practitioners is against the legal and social norms a health professional is subject to. In such a case, the lack of ethics on the part of the health practitioner becomes an ultimate down pull for medical intervention for people suffering from mental disorders. In some instances, the medical practitioner for mental health might be subject to third-party disclosure of information, a factor agreed by the country's code of conduct provided that the appropriate consent from the relevant party or party is observed (Cordess, 2001).
For children, their parent's mental standpoint plays a crucial role in the outcome of their children. While parents are strictly social with their children, the social norm played between them becomes subject to how the society and the family interact together. While this scenario gets grounded on a hypothetical psychological structure, the role of the parent may be the influencer of a poor upbringing for the children. In such a case, the society and the government ought to step in and subject the children under foster care while the parent receives the appropriate intervention for the condition.
In conclusion, this paper has analyzed the conceptualized roles that social and cultural norms have on the perspective of mental disorders and the diagnosis and treatment modalities involved according to the ICD-11 and the DSM-5 manuals. The roles of clinicians, clients, the family, legal organizations and the society have an accommodating influence on mental disorders while when mishandled outside the brackets of cultural and social norms, are detrimental to the employment of diagnostic and treatment parameters in the intervention of mental illnesses in the United States of America. Some of the detrimental outcomes have some propositions for positive change.
- Alarcón, R. D. (2009). Culture, cultural factors and psychiatric diagnosis: review and projections. World psychiatry, 8(3), 131-139.
- Cordess, C. (2001). Confidentiality and mental health. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- Manago, B. (2015). Understanding the social norms, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward mental illness in The United States. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, 170042.
- McLeod, J. D., & Kaiser, K. (2004). Childhood emotional and behavioral problems and educational attainment. American sociological review, 69(5), 636-658.
- Pescosolido, B. A. (2013). The public stigma of mental illness: What do we think; what do we know; what can we prove?. Journal of Health and Social behavior, 54(1), 1-21.
- Shrivastava, A., Johnston, M., & Bureau, Y. (2012). Stigma of mental illness-1: Clinical reflections. Mens sana monographs, 10(1), 70.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). Chapter 2: Culture counts: The influence of culture and society on mental health. Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity—A Supplement to Mental health: A Report of the Surgeon General.