Culturally Competent Care - The Human Perspective
E pluribus unum — “From many, one,” or “Out of many, one.” This is a traditional motto of the United States from its early history, appearing on the Great Seal, where the eagle is holding a scroll with E pluribus unum in its beak. Its inclusion on the seal was approved by an act of Congress in 1782. Eventually, Congress passed an act in 1956 adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.
Why mention this at all? Though these mottos have different interpretations, our country reflects the first motto. As such, students of today who dare to enter the ever-changing, challenging but exciting, enterprising field of health care should be wary to keep E pluribus unum in mind as they begin the arduous, dedicated life of treating another’s emotional wounds of life — be they physical or mental and, for some, spiritual.
“I am fully committed to the vision and mission to bring equity, justice and a more linguistic, culturally proficient, precise method to treat the whole person, body, mind, spirit and soul.”
One of my heroes is Frederick Sandoval, MPH, executive director and former president of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association. He has over 34 years of professional experience in health and human services. He served as a member of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Health Care Reform Community of Practice advising on effective outreach and enrollment of uninsured Latino(a)(x)s.
Frederick Sandoval is not a psychiatrist, but he is a hero for mental health — unstoppable, unassuming and, most importantly, a servant of the people, helping link the fabric of our nation’s diverse people for the good of all. I too have that goal in mind.
I am fully committed to the vision and mission to bring equity, justice and a more linguistic, culturally proficient, precise method to treat the whole person, body, mind, spirit and soul.
Over the years of my work in psychiatry, I have met people from all walks of life with different outlooks on life. Every one of them carried generational history — some of trauma, some of devastating loss, some of inter-familial conflict — and many drew their strengths from their culture, their families, their belief in their Creator. Many shared their difficulties of navigating a system of care, foreign both to them and their families.
There are those that say these people should become mental-health literate. I think there’s room for the healthcare provider to become socially literate enough to cross the divide before them when they treat an individual who is suffering from mental illness. I continue to work at learning about the unique cultures of those I meet and have the privilege to serve.
Dr. Mercedes Martinez is a board-certified psychiatrist. She completed a Child Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Adult Psychiatric training at RFU. She was awarded the Ginsburg Fellowship for the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry from 1995 until 1997.
Opinions expressed in “Through the Microscope” columns are solely those of the authors and are not intended to represent those of Rosalind Franklin University.