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Cultural diversity poses a challenge to mental Health care systems in many settings. Specialized cultural consultation services have been developed in a number of countries as a way to supplement existing services. The objective of this paper is to compare and contrast cultural consultation services in Montreal, London, and Paris to determine how culture and society have shaped the evolution of these services to meet local sensitivities and imperatives. Historical contexts of the sites, their descriptions and origins, how they categorize cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, and their intake procedures are compared and contrasted according to a standardized template of themes. Data came from site visits and participant observation at each site. For historical, political, and cultural reasons, categorization of diversity and intake procedures differ markedly by site: Montreal focuses on language categories and language proficiency; London enumerates ethnic diversity according to officially mandated categories; and Paris does not gather ethnic data on its patients in any form. The process of cultural consultation, specifically its triage and intake procedures, is profoundly influenced by local histories and social norms that are maintained by professional cultures of psychiatry in each setting. To properly place their patients in context, cultural psychiatrists must not only aim to understand the culture of the other, but also must consider the culture of the mainstream society and how it shapes the delivery of services.

Original publication




Journal article


Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

Publication Date





433 - 455