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Position 18: Cultural and Linguistic Competency in Mental Health Systems

December 23, 2009

The Mental Health America Board of Directors approved Position 18 on March 11th, 2006 and it will remain in effect until March 11th, 2011. The policy’s position states that is essential that all aspects of mental health systems be reflective of the diversity of the communities that they serve and that mental health agencies strive to become and remain culturally and linguistically competent. To be considered culturally and linguistically competent, skills, attitudes, and policies must be incorporated to help people regardless of values and beliefs, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, religion, and language.

To meet these criteria, it is suggested that all mental health organizations have a formalized, written cultural and linguistic competency plan along with planning and advisory councils and governing boards with diverse and culturally and linguistically competent membership, reflective of the communities being served. Furthermore, the recruitment and hiring of staff should be done so according to standards of cultural and linguistic competency.
Regular cultural and linguistic competency training for leadership and providers should be provided. The education and enrollment materials should be pretested for reader-friendliness and then published in different languages, including Braille, to match the population served, and finally. To ensure the methods were effective, the reader-friendliness of the above materials should be measured in consumer satisfaction surveys. Language translation services, such as sign-language, should be provided throughout the entire course of care. Finally, providers should be aware the cultural and linguistically diversity and the family dynamics of the consumers they serve and also be able to provide for all ethnicities and sexual orientations.

 

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