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Health Equity in Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

OCLC equityThe DBHDS Office of Health Equity Advancement (OHEA) leads efforts to provide improved services to diverse and underserved individuals and works toward eliminating the disparities within the state’s mental health, intellectual disability and substance-use disorder system. 

NEW TO CULTURAL COMPETENCE? Start out by reading key definitions ________________________________________________________________



What's on the OHEA webpage? - There are a number of resources located on these pages. 

Most of the sources are listed directly on the left hand tabs.  Topical, programmatic, and training information is listed by focus area. You can find quick links listed below.

  • Clinician Resources (treatment in multicultural communities, bias assessments, multilingual educational material, specialized material for MH, SA, and ID/DD)
  • Community Engagement
  • Language Access (interpreter information, translated documents, language selection, health literacy, Title VI plans, language access plan templates, checklists, & toolkits)
  • Organizational Health Equity Planning & Development (organizational assessment tools, data & demographics, planning templates, CLC committee descriptions
  • Refugee Healing Partnership - Read all about the statewide effort to build capacity to serve refugees in the behavioral health system.
  • Training - DBHDS has a variety of training and facilitator training programs.  You can read more on these pages.
  • Workforce Diversity & Inclusion - Looking for interview panel questions?  Performance Management ideas for evaluating cross cultural abilities? Take a look at these pages.


Join the OHEA Google Group - Do you want to keep up with the latest research, articles, events, and information related to cultural competence, language access, and health equity in the state and the nation?

We have other Learning Communities too! 

Got Questions? Click here to email us


what is clc

The definition offered by Cross, in 1989 has provided a lasting foundation for the field and is viewed as universally applicable across multiple systems.

“Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.
The word culture is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group. The word competence is used because it implies having the capacity to function effectively. 

What makes ling comp

The National Center for Cultural Competence developed a definition that provides a foundation for determining linguistic competence in health care, mental health and other human service delivery systems. It reminds providers that linguistic competence encompasses a broad spectrum of services and individuals: 

The capacity of an organization and its personnel to communicate effectively, and convey information in a manner that is easily understood by diverse audiences including persons of limited English proficiency, those who have low literacy skills or are not literate, individuals with disabilities, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Linguistic competency requires organizational and provider capacity to respond effectively to the health and mental health literacy needs of populations served. The organization must have policy, structures, practices, procedures, and dedicated resources to support this capacity.

Goode & Jones (modified 2009). National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child & Human Development

Diversity Wheel

The integrated pattern of thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions associated, wholly or partially, with racial, ethnic, or linguistic groups as well as religious, spiritual, biological, geographical, or sociological characteristics. Culture is dynamic in nature, and individuals may identify with multiple cultures over the course of their lifetimes.

Elements of culture include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Age
• Cognitive ability or limitations
• Country of origin
• Degree of acculturation
• Educational level attained
• Environment and surroundings
• Family and household composition
• Gender identity
• Generation
• Health practices, including use of traditional healer techniques such as Reiki and acupuncture.
• Linguistic characteristics, including language(s) spoken, written, or signed; dialects or regional variants; literacy levels; and other related communication needs.
• Military affiliation
• Occupational groups
• Perceptions of family and community
• Perceptions of health and well-being and related practices.
• Perceptions/beliefs regarding diet and nutrition
• Physical ability or limitations
• Political beliefs
• Racial and ethnic groups include — but are not limited to — those defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Religious and spiritual characteristics, including beliefs, practices, and support systems related to how an individual finds and defines meaning in his/her life.
• Residence (i.e., urban, rural, or suburban)
• Sex
• Sexual orientation
• Socioeconomic status

 US DHHS Office of Minority Health(2005)