Discuss about the Culture And Health Among Asian Migrants In Australia.
Globalization is the main factor responsible for the present rise in multiculturalism. The term culture encompasses different thoughts, actions, communications, values, beliefs and institutions of ethnic, racial, social or religious groups. Such cultural structures, such as religion, race, education, language, education, economic status and ethnicity are major influences on the health and wellbeing of people. Australia accounts for the largest proportion of immigrants in the world. It has an estimated 24% people born overseas of the total population, which amounts to 4.96 million people. Almost 1 in 7 Australians are born in non English speaking countries according to the AIHW (Australian Institute of Health Welfare). The Asia born population comprises a much large proportion of the population in western country side, especially in Perth. Asian migrants belong to two categories depending on which migration stream they have entered. The economic stream migrants are highly educated, English speaking, independent and young (Watkins, Ho & Butler, 2017). They generally come from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and India. Family reunion migrants come from the Philippines, Vietnam and Mainland China and are low skilled, non English speaking. In this reflective essay, I will identify some health issues that are prevalent in the Asian migration population residing in west Australian countryside. I will illustrate the cultural factors that affect health outcomes of one specific issue in the concerned population.
Culture acts as a social determinant of the health status among people. The social determinants are defined by some political, environmental, economic conditions Health inequities generally arise due to these social determinants and lead to avoidable and unfair differences in the health status within people living in a particular community. Australians are known to have good health. However, it is not shared equally. There are significant differences in the health of different Australian populations. These include differences in rates of death and disease, life expectancy; self perceived health, health behaviors, health risk factors and health service utilization. Very few healthcare related studies have focused on the health conditions of Asian immigrants due to limited data availability (Renzaho et al., 2016).
My clinical practice helped me in identifying the major health issues that are faced by migrants. As a part of the essay, I planned to investigate the presence of health effects in Asian immigrants. I had two questions in my mind while investigating about the health issues among migrants. I tried to discover whether Asian migrants were in a better health position upon arrival in Australia than the local population? Furthermore, I questioned myself what was the effect of the increase in residence years on the health outcomes of the migrants?
I found that when Asian migrants arrive in Australia, they have minimal knowledge about the existing healthcare system. I was quite distressed to find that Australian habits of alcohol consumption, smoking, diet and physical activity led to the development of several issues on migrant health. The most common health issues found among Asian migrants in western countryside are mental impairment, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and infnant mortality. The fact that migrants were at a risk of discrimination due to their birth status which exposed these communities to health related risks concerned me. I also found that several socio-cultural barriers prevented them from accessing proper healthcare facilities. Barriers that affected healthcare include language and culture differences, inadequate knowledge and income constraints. I have identified mental health as a major issue (Newman, Proctor & Dudley, 2013). The different cultural factors that impact the health outcome in the chosen migrant population are as follows:
Language Difficulties- Inefficient communication ability is identified as an essential factor in Asian migrant population that influences psychological wellbeing of new refugees and immigrants (Robertson, 2014). Lack of English proficiency creates an impact on the life of the immigrant and exacerbates the problems faced. Older immigrants, women and refugees find it difficult to learn new languages. I found that such migrants with limited language skills relied on their children for interpretation. However, they suffered from isolation when the children left and developed a feeling of dependence on family members. New migrants also suffer from financial stress and unemployment issues. I realized that low English proficiency made them perform unskilled tasks. This created a sense of depression (Mace et al., 2014). On the other hand, most Asian migrants develop low self esteem when their educational qualifications are not accepted by concerned employment authorities in Australia. Upon investigation, I collected facts that provide evidence for prevalence of depression and poor life adjustment among migrants owing to unemployment. This occurred because unemployment restricted their social contact avenues. Mental risks associated with such circumstances are loss of perceived status, family stress and personal frustration and family stress. When the migrant ethnic community is not well established, there occurs lack of social support (Clarke & Isphording, 2015).
Social support disruption- Asian families cope with consequences of family separation. Research studies helped me understand that such split family arrangements caused family strains, parent child conflict, marital discord and behavioral problems. Loneliness creates a major impact on the mental status as well. Temporary immigrants experience less social support than the permanent residents who are established and settled. I found that several Asian students faced distress during their home-stay experiences in Australia. Unaccompanied children, older migrants and women face greater problems to build supportive connections on migration to the new land.
Acculturation attitudes- They refer to changes in attitudes, behavior, identity and values which occur when there is continuous contact between individuals belonging to different cultural groups. I found from several research data that there is a greater tendency among immigrants to become acculturated to the new society. However, they still maintain a strong attachment to their homeland and ethnic identities (Buchanan et al., 2016). This value of integration and adaptation helps migrants to adjust to their new area of residence. At times, this acculturation creates a negative impact on their mental health when the migrants try to reject the new culture and maintain their personal cultural beliefs. This leads to mental stress.
Traumatic Experiences Prior to Migration- I was quite perturbed to find that several Indo-Chinese migrants had suffered torture and trauma before resettlement in Australia (Day, 2016). These created adverse and long lasting effects on their mental health during resettlement. The most common mental disorders that occur in Asian migrants are depression, post traumatic stress disorder and psychosomatic problems.
Acquisition of pertinent knowledge regarding the mental health issues encountered by the Asian migrants in Australia helped me to get a sneak peek on the factors that lead to the prevalence of such disturbances in the concerned population. Thus, I gained an insight on the need to assess the situation and intervene accordingly for rendering optimal care to the chosen group. In order to cater to the diverse needs of this vulnerable population who are likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders a plethora of recommendations have been made until date through empirical researches. Strategies have been suggested at individual, local and national policy level. The chief reasons for migration have been identified to be linked with economic, political or educational aspect. Thus, clinicians must be well aware about the potential impacts of discrimination on migrants in addition to their personal prejudices that might adversely influence their states of being. It is further suggested that the policy makers must cautiously take differential expressions of responses on the part of the migrants to pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy into account. Health service providers are further opined to respond to the specific local needs of this vulnerable population. Appreciation and acknowledgement of their diverse needs have been emphasized to harbor optimal outcomes for the population (Bhugra et al., 2014). The conformance to culturally safe practice is crucial to mitigate the occurrence of mental health issues in the Asian migrant population settled in Australia.
Identification of the barriers to service provision is vital to the conferring of adequate and appropriate care to this population that encompasses consideration of all the aspects with respect to the holistic growth of the person. Relevant findings have detected language, organizational processes and communication as potential barriers that impair service delivery (Cleary, Jackson & Hungerford, 2014). Maintenance of cultural competency in the context of community healthcare is imperative for the healthcare personnel to narrow the gaps in healthcare for the migrant population. Equality and equity are two crucial and often-overlapping concepts that they need to follow instead of just following person-centered care to satisfactorily address the multidimensional needs of the migrant population (Truong et al., 2017). Further study has suggested that implementation of mental health literacy as a framework might offer choicest resolution to the mental health problems in the migrant population thereby paving the way for other culturally responsive framework suitable for combating the situation in case of the migrants (Na, Ryder & Kirmayer, 2016). However, prior to providing appropriate care facilities for ameliorating the mental health concerns in the chosen population, prompt initiatives must be undertaken to assess the vulnerability of this group. Enhanced coordination and communication among the voluntary organizations, mental health services and social services may be helpful in this regard. Training of the healthcare personnel on cross-cultural issues, technology based interventions alongside psycho-educational initiatives and integration of mental healthcare with primary care facilities have also been reckoned as vital for assessing the gravity of the problems as experienced by the migrant population in the Australian context (Giacco, Matanov & Priebe, 2014).
I believe improvisation and implementation of suitable resources for the target group of Asian migrant population in Australia is only possible through careful analysis by virtue of parameters that address the diversity in the group that play significant roles in emanation of health problems in the concerned population. In this respect, various frameworks may be adopted to measure the mental health issues in a convincing manner. Knowledge about the metal health status alongside the physical health data is imperative to identify the barriers to healthcare access. The 6-item Kessler Screening Scale for Psychological Distress (K6) has been utilized in relevant research to understand the mental health in migrants (Chen, Ling & Renzaho, 2017). This scale in conjunction with social integration approaches might offer greater insight into the health of the migrants. Moreover, I feel understanding about the demographic distribution of the mental health patterns in the Asian migrant population is also necessary as mental health problems widely vary across age groups as well as across genders and thus the interventional approaches will differ in such cases. Language also forms a crucial part in any culturally diverse group who share different linguistics and therefore experiences difficulty in coping up with the culture prevalent in the other country. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities are considered vulnerable of facing the wrath of mental health concerns thus necessitating the documentation and analysis of their language, communication skills that are integral to the maintenance of wellbeing. Moreover, family structure, educational qualification and employment status must also be noted in case of the migrant population so that mental health issues may be addressed to a significant extent (Groutsis, O’Leary & Russell, 2016). The concerned professionals and authorities must effectively usurp the available resources in the Australian scenario particularly in alliance with the Standards of Practice for the nurses so that mental health issues may be mitigated in the Asian migrant population. Abidance by the professional guidelines and dictums is crucial to ensure safety and efficacy of the potential interventions (Nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au, 2017).
Mental health problems in the Asian migrant community residing in Australia is a throbbing problem of modern times that in turn is found to be associated with several cultural factors. Understanding of the issues with respect to this vulnerable population and acknowledgement of the barriers is healthcare is crucial to offer effective resolutions to their problems. In my opinion, addressing of the factors linked to the culmination of the problems is necessary to provide effective solution and healthcare professionals especially the nurses who act as frontline service providers must take proactive measures and initiatives to combat the situation.
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