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This chapter focuses on the evidence regarding the social and cultural determinants of mental health. It examines the role of culture in psychiatry, and the historical evolution of research on the cultural influences on psychiatric concepts and classification. The study of culture on mental health has been profoundly influential in guiding the clinician in managing psychiatric disorders in persons of different culture. The chapter considers four major social determinants of mental disorders: poverty, gender, conflict and the marginalisation experienced by indigenous communities across the world. From a public health perspective, an understanding of mechanisms of the relationship between social adversity and mental health can inform primary and secondary preventive strategies. The chapter ends with a critical evaluation of the contemporary understanding of the role of cultural influences on the aetiology, clinical presentation, treatment and outcome of mental disorders.
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