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When the Flemish mental health care meets the Yiddish community... Research on cultural sensitive assistance

Monday, 4 April, 2011 - 09:15
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Psychology and Educational Sciences
Gila Schnitzer
phd defence

Invisible walls which kept people separated during hundreds of years, are increasingly eroding.
We travel and migrate from one place to another on an unprecedented scale. Mental health care
workers work less and less in a monocultural context and are more and more faced with people
from a heterogeneous cultural, social, religious and linguistic backround. In the scientific field,
globalisation and multiculturalisation show itself by an increase of research, books and articles
about multicultural mental health care.
As a case for our study into culture-sensitive assistance we examine the (Flemish) mental health
care to the Yiddish community in Antwerp. To get a picture of the interactions concerning
mental health assistance between these 2 meaning systems, which are differently constructed
regarding values, norms and behaviour, we research questions like how does the Yiddish
community experiences psychological problems of children and expresses these in language,
which copings strategies are used, which (f) actors take part in the decision-making to go to enter
(Flemish) mental health care on the one hand. And on the other hand how does the Flemish
health care define problems, which care route does it offer them and how it adapts to these
cross-cultural situation. We compare these findings to examine on which areas there are
collisions, transition moments, but also shared perspectives, and how these interact with each
other. We situate these findings in their respective social, cultural and historical context(s).
The different techniques and methods for collecting, processing and (re)producing data are used
from the same theoretical perspective particularly from social-constructionist epistemology
which describes the environment of people as the result of shared meanings and of coordinating
constructs. We portray the context of interaction, the interaction between actors, the interaction
between practices and the space within which culture-sensitive assistance is developed/practiced.
For this purpose we make use of active interviewing, participative observations and document
analysis on the one hand and grounded theory and situational analyses, member checks and
reflexivity on the other side.
These insights will lead us to processes and developments that are relevant for an effective
mental health care assistance. By means of these results we aim to contribute to the theoretical
and methodological development of mental health care assistance in multicultural contexts in
general and culture-sensitive mental health care in particular.

PDF icon Schnitzer_a.pdf