Culture Counts: A Guide to Best Practices for Developing Health Promotion Initiatives in Mental Health and Substance Use with
In Chapter 1 - Break down barriers:
On this page:
As the previous examples show, assumptions can create barriers between health promotion initiatives and ethnocultural communities.
For any health promotion initiative to work, a full understanding of its intended audience is needed. To understand ethnocultural
communities, you need to work directly with them. Support for your health promotion initiative will grow if the community
participates in its development and implementation.
We all tend to view things through our own cultural lens. The way we view things is also affected by our individual experiences,
education, and training. Simply being aware of this tendency is a good start to building bridges with ethnocultural communities.
Some more steps you can take to enhance your work with people of different cultures:
- put aside assumptions
- be flexible
- listen more, talk less
- when problems arise, rather than make judgments, recognize the possibility of misunderstanding.
To learn more about cross-cultural communication:
In many ways, creating health promotion initiatives with ethnocultural communities is no different from creating them with
other specific communities and audiences. One major difference, however, is language. Many people in ethnocultural communities
do not speak either official language or simply feel more at ease communicating in their own language, especially when it
comes to sensitive issues such as mental health and substance use problems.
If you do not speak the community’s language, it is going to be difficult to do the research and community consultation needed
to create the initiative. One way around this difficulty is to partner with one or more agencies already established in the
community. The staff in community-based agencies tend to understand both the mainstream culture and their community’s culture.
They can therefore act as a bridge between you and the community.