BELIEFS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS AMONG PEOPLE FROM CULTURALLY AND LINGUISTICALLY DIVERSE (CALD) BACKGROUNDS NOW LIVING IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
 
Kane, R.T. and Rooney, R., Curtin University of Technology, Bakshi, L., Ethnic Communities Council, O'Neill, K., Department of Health and Aged Care, and Wright, B., Transcultural Psychiatry Unit, Australia
 
Beliefs about the causes and treatment of mental illness vary widely according to cultural and linguistic background. A qualitative methodology was used to investigate beliefs about the aetiology and treatment of mental illness in five ethnic groups: Indian, Vietnamese, Spanish-speaking, Romanian, and Italian. Focus groups were conducted within each ethnic group using ethno-specific group facilitators. In addition, one-to-one interviews with psychiatric clients, their care-givers, and health professionals were conducted within each ethnic group using ethno-specific interviewers. The key themes that emerged indicated a variety of beliefs about the causes of mental illness. These were associated with ancestral and religious beliefs, and negative events experienced during migration and settlement. Beliefs about appropriate treatment also varied widely. On the basis of the present results, it is argued that cultural beliefs about mental illness need to be taken into account when treating psychologically distressed people from CALD backgrounds. The present results are also discussed in relation to the stigma that is frequently associated with mental illness.