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Mental health and developmental disability service organizations have tremendous workloads.  While their primary role is to provide services and treatment to individuals in their communities, they are also working continuously on policies and procedures for community services, responding to federal and state audits and inquiries, ensuring compliance with regulations from accreditation and licensing entities, and interfacing with justice, educational, and health systems. 

Identifying resources for clinicians and service providers, developing tools, templates, and guidance documents for managers and leadership can help busy organizations understand complex information and implement measures that make an immediate difference. 



A key activity in developing cultural competence is regular and ongoing assessment at all levels of the organization.  Guides and tools can be found here.



TIP 59: Improving Cultural Competence - SAMHSA's TIP document assists professional care providers and administrators in understanding the role of culture in the delivery of substance abuse and mental health services. Discusses racial, ethnic, and cultural considerations and the core elements of cultural competence.

Keep up with the latest information on cultural competence, health literacy, language access, disparities, planning, and assessment on the OCLC listserve.

OCLC Google Group

Most public behavioral health and developmental disability service organizations have identified a point of contact within their organization for culturally and linguistically appropriate services. 

This list allows us to share resources across the system and network on shared interests and initiatives.  See the list HERE.

2016 Cultural Competence White Paper

"I work at a State Psychiatric Hospital. Minimal Training is Required" - An exploration by self-perception of Cultural Competency in State Mental Health Providers. 

A Report for the DBHDS Statewide Cultural and Linguistic Competence Advisory Board

"Health professionals are now more aware of the challenges they face when providing healthcare to a culturally and racially diverse population” (Bhui, Warfa, Edonya, McKenzie, & Bhugra, 2007, p. 1).Beyond the general health setting, mental health care has experienced the same effects of widespread globalization, increasing diversity and the sociodemographic shifts that have occurred over the last several decades. Because of this, culturally competent mental health care is needed increasingly to support the growing needs of populations within the United States (Whaley & Davis, 2007).

Cultural competence is the capacity to function effectively as an individual (or organization) within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers (or patients) and their communities. Specifically within mental healthcare and substance abuse, including and valuing culture as a part of a patient or client’s treatment because of the added stigma attached and complex relational dynamics present. Additionally, vocabularies, cultural beliefs, norms and practices can be interpreted behaviorally in incorrect ways if not, at the very least acknowledged and valued by the providers. This could potentially lead to incorrect care, added distress, lack of treatment and/or noncompliance (DBHDS, 2014b).

The purpose of this study is to investigate how Virginian mental health clinicians define cultural competence and perceive their individual cross cultural competence.

After obtaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, The Office of Cultural and Linguistic Competency of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services identified individuals in the target population and asked for their participation via email. Randomization was not used to distribute surveys to practitioners because of the small target sample; instead all eligible individuals were asked to participate. The email contained a link to a Qualtrics survey,  an online survey tool vetted by James Madison University.

 Read the entire report here.