The Mental Health Relevance of Idioms of Distress Anger and Perceptions of Injustice among New York Puerto Ricans

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Cultural sensitivity in mental health research is enhanced by examining the collective perceptions of members of ethnic groups about their own idiomatic expressions of distress. Such an examination was conducted with Puerto Ricans living in New York City, beginning with focus group discussions. Their prevailing idioms of distress, based upon themes of anger and injustice, were correlated widely with professionally developed measures of anxiety, depression, and somatization and with utilization of professional mental health care. By examining the relationship between idioms of distress, saliently volunteered by members of the ethnic ingroup, on the one hand, and professional care and assessments of mental health, on the other, we increase our culturally based understanding of mental health in the community

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