Workshop on Cultural Competence and Evidence Based Practices in Mental Health Care in Diverse Societies

August 17, 2019

A Two-day state level workshop was conducted on Cultural Competence and Evidence Based Practices in Mental Health Care in Diverse Societies organised by Department of Psychology, Delhi-NCR campus on 16th and 17th August, 2019. Forty-three participants attended the workshop. The objective of the workshop was to sensitise the mental health professionals to approach mental health issues in a culturally relevant manner without losing its evidence base. Modules for the workshop are developed based on research conducted as part of the US-Indo 21st century knowledge initiative award in collaboration with MIAMI university (Oxford Ohio, USA) funded by USIEF.

The workshop began with an inaugural in the presence of Campus Director Rev. Dr. Fr. Viju P. Devasy, Co-ordinator Dr Surekha Chukkali and Faculty In charge Dr Padmakumari along with other faculty of Department of Psychology. Ms Kavan, Assistant Professor set the context by briefly explaining the updated mental health policy by the government of India (Ministry of Health and Welfare, 2014) which calls for curricula that focus on evidence-based training and incorporate the local cultural elements, which is critical in diverse societies such as India and USA. The participants of the workshop were warmly welcomed by Dr Padmakumari followed by the inaugural address by director.

The workshop on day 1 began with session by Dr Baiju Gopal highlighting the focus on complex, social, psychological and cultural processes such as belief systems of the client. To facilitate this learning among the students, an activity and a simulation was conducted for the participants to understand their own cultural beliefs and then their core beliefs. The idea was to trace where the core belief came from, whether it has any roots in the culture one has and checking for any biases that one may have developed that stops one from being open minded. Participants participated very enthusiastically for the same and openly spoke about their apprehensions of being culturally competent.

On day 2 of the workshop, Dr. Jayashankara Reddy briefed the students about some essentials to understanding one’s own biopsychology. He then presented a psychogenic seizures case in front of the students and asked them to identify the possible causes from a psychological perspective. A successful interactive session was hence conducted for the same. The next session thereafter by Dr Padma Kumari effectively educated the students about how universal tests need to be culturally tailored to suit the client’s needs. She effectively pointed out the importance of the same and possible errors that can occur in a psychological assessment if the mental health professional does not take due care of the client’s culture. An activity to induce critical thinking was conducted and a successful discussion took place. The session ended with Dr Padma Kumari giving the students some important information on how one can make their cultural assessments more effective.

The workshop also included a question and answer session, wherein the resource persons addressed the queries of participants. The workshop ended with a valedictory presided by Campus Administrator, Rev Fr Sunny Joseph and guest Dr Anoop, Professor, Department of Psychology, Ambedkar University, Delhi. Fr Sunny Joseph and Dr Anoop inspired the students to take forward their learning towards meaningful practice. The certificates were given away to the participants and a formal vote of thanks was proposed by the coordinator, Dr Surekha Chukkali.