Frequently Asked Questions

What is diversity and culture?

Diversity: psychological, physical, and social differences that occur among any and all individuals, such as race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, economic class, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, and learning styles. (The Philadelphia Multicultural Resource center)

Culture: the integrated pattern of human behaviors including thoughts, communication, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious, or social nature. (Practice Parameter for culture competence, AACAP)

Why is diversity and culture important?

Diversity and culture affects everyone, and the factors involved in diversity and culture influence the cultural backgrounds and experiences of individuals and groups. Culture is also an important guiding force in individuals' lives as it shapes not only their perceptions but also their relationships with people and the world around them. Cultural groups can provide a source of belonging, mutual help, validation, identity and self-esteem. In the process of learning about cultural diversity, one moves from a monocultural perspective to a cultural pluralist perspective, which involves acceptance, valuing, utilization and celebration of similarities and differences at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels. (

How do a family's culture and values affect their child's mental health?

Some cultures or religious groups have their own "healer," "curanderos," religious leaders, or other people from their community whom they rely on for medical or mental health help. There are also some cultures or religious groups that use alternative medicines or natural remedies unique to their particular culture to treat certain conditions, including mental-health problems. While some of these remedies or alternative treatments might be harmless, some have important side effects and could interact with medicines or treatments you may be considering for the child. It is important to obtain from child's family/caregivers.

In addition, people from certain cultural backgrounds have a strong stigma around mental health issues, which may create a sense of shame for parents seeking help for their child's emotional distress. As a result, these parents may delay or avoid seeking help.

How does a mental health professionals' culture and value system affect a child's treatment?

While most families and children manage successfully, it is important for parents to be aware of signs of stress and possibly serious problems. The responses of children to stress of separation are determined by their individual makeup and developmental age. The following are some common reactions:

A child might feel more comfortable sharing personal information with a professional who is either from the same cultural background and/or shares some of the values of the child and his/her family. Mental health professionals should respect the culture and belief system, and be sensitive to the needs of culturally diverse children and families, even if they are not from the same culture.