The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Culture, Psychosocial Disorders and Mental Health: an African Perspective

Chair of the section/Suggestions, Abstracts, Papers to:
Email: Sunday Erhabor Idemudia (Bremen/Ibadan, Nigeria)

ABSTRACT: The various branches of the social Sciences, including psychology, understand that neither health nor ill health occur randomly within populations. Both are rooted in social processes such as the pattern of social interactions between individuals, groups or nations and people's reactions to and perceptions of their social, physical environments. There are also the overarching systems of values and norms, which help perpetuate patterns of mental health.

In this section, the ways in which culture affects psychosocial health positively, negatively and recovery from the African perspective will be reviewed within the framework of the links between indigenous theories of conflicts/stress, solidarity and breakdown. Not only do cultural definitions influence the interpretation of an event as stressful, but also our understanding of the role of life events depends on the models of the mental health practitioner. For the mental health worker, the challenge is to detect the ways in which the interplay of social facts and relationships affects the patient's mental health. Therefore, it is important to every mental health worker to know, understand and be familiar with the cultural dynamics of the society he or she is working in. This paper intends to demonstrate how these cultural stresses express themselves in African patients with emphasis on Nigerian patients. The section will also attempt to bring some coherence to a series of observations made by people knowledgeable about the conditions of health and disease in Africa from a-mind-body perspective.