Cultural Sensitivity, Relevance, and Competence in School Mental Health

  • Matthew R. Mock
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)

As a young boy, I remember becoming instantly aware of cultural practices in maintaining maximum health in my own Chinese American family. When I came down with the mumps at age 4, my more traditional Chinese mother toted me off to an apothecary in the heart of Chinatown. Standing up on the tip of my toes, barely tall enough to see above the glass counter, I could see bins of carefully laid ginseng root, dried seahorses, preserved plums, and finely pressed leaves. I observed the elder Chinese Herbalist carefully placing selected ingredients from wooden bins on different sheets of paper upon which he then wrote directions. In Cantonese, I heard this expert herbalist emphatically tell my mother how to prepare the poultice and then wrap my face when we arrived home to bring down the swelling from the mumps

Following his every instruction, my mother prepared the salve in a mortar and pestle and carefully applied it to my face and upper body. Born in America and more acculturated than my parents, I remember thinking back then that if there were not something actually curative in the black, pastelike mixture adorning my face for consecutive days, surely the smell and itchy feel of this stuff would make me mentally will myself to get better! I also remember felling too embarrassed and ashamed to tell any of my neighborhood friends and schoolmates, most of whom were non-Asian, that my parents had ever even thought of this traditional Chinese cure. What would the school nurse say about this folk remedy? How would my teacher respond? Would the principal call in social service authorities? Now, several decades later as a practitioner, professor, and father, I have great curiosity about the medicinal elements that made the salve so soothing and able to cure my childhood ailment (Mock, 2000, in press). In some ways, cultural sensitivity, relevancy, and competency in school mental health means looking towards the future. But in other ways it may really mean recovering what we may have known all along but had not put into continuous practice


Chinese Herbalist School Nurse Cultural Sensitivity Ginseng Root School Mental Health 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew R. Mock
    • 1
  1. 1.DePartment of Health and Human ServicesBerkeley Mental Health, Family, Youth, and Children's ServicesBerkeleyCalifornia

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