Cultural psychiatry in the United Kingdom exhibits unique characteristics closely related to its history as a colonial power, its relationship with Commonwealth countries and the changing socio-demographic characteristics of its diverse population throughout the centuries. It is not surprising, therefore, that the emergence of this discipline was centred around issues of race and religion. After a brief historical review of the development of cultural psychiatry and the mention of pioneering intellectual and academic figures, as well as the evolvement of the field in organizations such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists, this chapter examines the need of a critical cultural psychiatry, more than a narrative social science distanced from the realities of clinical practice. In such context, issues such as policies and experience with efforts to delivering race equality, and address inequities in a renewed public health approach seem to confer British cultural psychiatry with a defined socially active role aimed at the pragmatic management, understanding and improvement of diverse and alternative systems of care and care practices.
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