The UK population is changing. The 2001 census reported that 9% of people living in England and Wales belonged to a non-white ethnic group. In 2011, this figure increased to 14% (ONS, 2011).
In our day-to-day jobs as psychiatrists, we have to rely on our judgment when assessing and treating patients. In order to make this judgment, we make comparisons, using what is familiar to us as the ‘norm’.
It is important that we approach patients with an open mind, avoiding preconceptions or prejudices. The first step towards a culturally sensitive assessment is that the assessors be aware of their own cultural and ethnic background.
Everyone has their own ethnicity. By becoming more aware of your own cultural background, you will be in a better position to understand your patients and offer them a better assessment.
Have you noticed that in the previous paragraph I mentioned ‘ethnic background’ and ‘cultural background’?
Are these two expressions interchangeable? If not, what is the difference between them? This is one of the points we expect you to learn from this module.