Responsiveness to diversity

Responsiveness to diversity: Effective mental health care involves providing personalised, tailored care that is responsive to each person's needs, values and circumstances. This involves working sensitively and responsively with people from diverse groups within the community. To this end, services must ensure the sensitivity, effectiveness and appropriateness of mental health care for people from diverse cultural backgrounds, communities, language groups, and gender and sexual identities. Working with people from diverse backgrounds and communities is not an optional add-on but a core part of mainstream service delivery. In supporting people's recovery, services should be responsive to people from collectivist cultures, recognising that identity and wellbeing in collectivist communities are considered at group level, rather than individually.

  • Core principles
    • In supporting people's recovery, high-quality mental health care is personalised, respectful, relevant and responsive to diversity including people's culture and community background, gender and sexual identity.
    • Recovery-oriented mental health care considers people in the context of their identity, culture and community.
  • Key capabilities

    Mental health professionals

    • engage in ongoing respectful enquiry about people's cultural beliefs, values, practices and needs
    • actively consider how to integrate the wishes and needs of people and their significant others, and adapt their practice accordingly
    • make every effort to support people to actively practice their culture and values, recognising that cultural practices can be important for people's recovery
    • acknowledge and promote people's right to live in accordance with their identities, values and beliefs
    • recognise and respect diverse perspectives and understandings of mental health, such as different cultural and spiritual interpretations
    • work competently, sensitively and responsively with all people, regardless of their background including but not limited to age, gender, sexuality and cultural, community and language background
    • are flexible in personalising and tailoring their practice to suit people's particular needs and values
    • demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to Aboriginal3 understandings of social and emotional wellbeing
    • respond sensitively to individuals and their families and significant others from diverse backgrounds and communities
    • ensure that their practice is sensitive to differences based on gender, gender identity and sexuality
    • enhance their cultural responsiveness to diverse groups through ongoing professional development and enquiry
    • demonstrate knowledge of different ways of understanding mental health
  • Good practice
    • Understand how cultural differences affect people and their experiences.
    • Understand different cultural communication styles and utilise respectful ways of communicating.
    • Use non-technical language and utilise the services of an interpreter when necessary.
    • Recognise that different people have different understandings and experiences of community and that community has different significance for different people.
    • Respectfully enquire about people's background and cultural needs.
    • Use innovative practices to meet people's different needs.
    • Understand and demonstrate respect in relation to different understandings and meanings attributed to mental health across different cultures.
    • Recognise the diverse family and kinship structures across different cultures and the need for family work to accommodate these.
    • Be aware of personal values that may unintentionally affect practice.
    • Develop knowledge of concepts of Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing and the historical and contemporary factors that impact on Aboriginal Australians' wellbeing.
  • Good leadership
    • Ensure the availability of interpreters.
    • Develop links with community leaders and community-managed organisations and resource centres where there is a significant cohort of clients from a particular culture or community.
    • Conduct service planning and mapping that recognises the diverse populations that the organisation services, and make staff aware of this as part of care planning for individual clients.
    • Review local policies and procedures to incorporate principles of responsiveness to diversity including people's culture and community background, gender and sexual identity.

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