Cultural Competency: The Effects of Culture Shock and Language Stress in Health Education
Lucia Buttaro

Diversity among refugee and immigrant populations in American schools has made it necessary for health educators to understand the health needs and health-seeking behaviors, attitudes, cultural nuances, and perceptions about health of various groups. Two strategies to accomplish this are the Ulysses Syndrome and Cultural Competency Continuum. The Ulysses Syndrome focuses on the often-misunderstood psychosocial challenges and stress experienced by immigrants in their departure from the home country, and the adaptation to a different environment. The Ulysses Syndrome forms the gateway between mental health and mental disorder. The other means is through developing cultural competency. Understanding the 6 levels of the cultural competency continuum enables health educators to integrate cultural proficiency practices into individual health education practices. Understanding diversity and the Ulysses Syndrome and developing cultural competence is a long-term and on-going process. This process is complex, but essential in order to build at framework from which to address the health needs of a diverse society.

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