Tackling cultural safety and disparities in mental health: Striving or surviving?
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Background: While national practice standards and guidelines promote respectful and culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal people, the multi-dimensional experiences of mental health professionals in providing culturally safe care is not well documented. Aims: The purpose of this study was to explore health professionals’ experiences of providing culturally safe mental health care to Aboriginal people in Western Australia. Method: Data collection methods included semi-structured interviews, field observations, memo writing and reflective journaling, and a subsequent review of relevant literature. Using the constant comparative method of analysis, the basic social psychological problem (BSP) common to all participants was identified along with a social psychological process that participants engaged to manage the problem. Ethics approval for this study was obtained from Curtin University and the South Metropolitan Area Health Service Hospital Ethics Committee. Results: The basic social psychological problem (BSP) common to all participants was titled “being unprepared”. To manage the experience of “being unprepared”, participants engaged in the process called “seeking solutions by navigating the labyrinth”. Implications for Mental Health Nursing: The findings suggest; that there is limited understanding of the concept of cultural safety and there is inadequate professional development to assist clinicians; and the experience of providing cultural safe care has not been adequately addressed by organisations, health services, governments, educational providers and policy makers. Translation to Policy and/or Practice Change: Findings from this study provide opportunities for translation to practice and policy change including implications for; mental health professionals; health services; organisations; educational providers; and governments. Learning Objectives: This paper will: 1. Present the multi-dimensional aspects of providing culturally safe care. 2. Discuss the shared experiences of mental health professionals in providing culturally safe care to Aboriginal people and the process in which they engaged to overcome challenges to providing this care. 3. Give recommendations to improving culturally safe mental health care in mainstream mental health services.
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