Assessing Mental Health Across Cultures

Lena Andary, Yvonne Stolk and Steven Klimidis

Victorian Department of Human Services and University of Melbourne

We live in a multicultural society, yet how well do we understand the differences that exist across cultures and how they may impact on mental health and mental health assessment?

Assessing Mental Health Across Cultures provides a framework for mental health professionals and students to obtain an in-depth understanding of a client whose cultural background is different to their own. The book uses a combination of theoretical discussion and case examples set in the context of Australia's multicultural society.

About the Author

Lena Andary is a clinical psychologist who has worked with mental health services since 1992, including acute psychiatric inpatient units, crisis assessment and treatment teams and outpatient clinics. At the time of writing her position was as Ethnic Mental Health Consultant, which involved assisting mental health services in the Eastern Region and Inner South of Melbourne to improve their responsiveness to consumers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Lena's work has included the development and implementation of policy, research, training and education of mental health clinicians and community development. Her particular area of interest has been the clinical implications of working with persons from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds in terms of assessment, understanding and treatment. Lena is also a member of the Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis and teaches part of the Graduate Diploma in Community Mental Health offered by Melbourne University.

Yvonne Stolk is a clinical psychologist who worked for 8 years in community and inpatient mental health settings. Since 1997 she has been employed by NorthWestern Mental Health as an Ethnic Mental Health Consultant, working with mental health services in the Western Region of Melbourne to increase sensitivity of staff to clients of cultural and linguistic diversity and to improve access to services by ethnic communities. The training program that formed the basis of this book was developed collaboratively with Yvonne's co-authors in response to training needs identified as part of research she is undertaking for her PhD with the Centre International Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne. She was a contributing author to The Price of Freedom: Young Indochinese Refugees in Australia, edited by Krupinski and Burrows in 1986. In addition to a number of journal articles and research reports, Yvonne co-authored Not the Marrying Kind: Single Women in Australia, in 1983, which was based on research for her Master's thesis.

Steven Klimidis was awarded his PhD at the Australian National University in the field of clinical psychology in 1989. In the past decade he has worked as a clinical psychologist in private practice and within public health agencies. He has acted as consultant to numerous projects ranging from mental health promotion, service models development and clinical services evaluation. He has authored research papers, book chapters and reports in areas as diverse as psychiatric epidemiology, the phenomenology of psychoses, evaluation of health care services and transcultural mental health. Steven's research has more recently concentrated on how culture might be best conceptualised as it affects the nature of psychological distress, the help-seeking process and the therapeutic relationship. Currently he is the Assistant Director and Co-ordinator of Research of the Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit and holds the position of Associate Professor in the Centre for International Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne.


"The only flaw of the text is that the authors have understated in the title of the book its usefulness" Glenda Pedwell, Occupational Therapist

"I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It should be compulsory reading for all students of the health sciences" Associate Professor Jane McKendrick, Division of Maori and Pacific Health, University of Auckland

Table of Contents

  • Chapter titles include:
  • Issues and Dilemmas in Diagnosis Across Cultures
  • Cultural Values, the Sense of Self and Psychiatric Assessment
  • Expression and Communication of Distress Across Cultures
  • Issues in Translating Mental Health Terms Across Cultures
  • Crosscultural Beliefs about Illness
  • Negotiating Explanatory Models