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Cultural Competencies Project (Programs/Projects)

Given the increasing diversity among consumers of public mental health services and given the documented disparities in both access and quality of care to people of color it is important that mental health systems of care take steps to improve care to communities of color. One important step to address these disparities is to train mental health staff in cultural competence, that is, in the application of cultural knowledge and skills in providing services to these communities.

Our goal is to carry out a one-day (7-8 hours) workshop for clinical staff (case managers, therapists, nurses, psychiatrists, etc.) across the counties. The training is divided into four sections: (a) culture matters, (b) cultural principles, (c) behavioral indicators, and (d) application to cases. In the first segment, clinicians learn that a cultural perspective is necessary in clinical work. They also learn to be cautious in interpreting what might be cultural in the behavior or practice of a given client. In the second section, clinicians learn the 6 cultural principles that underlie the SCL model. In the next segment, the trainer presents the specific behavioral indicators that reflect clinicians' adherence to the cultural competence model.

In the fourth and final section, the trainer presents case material to illustrate the application of the model. Altogether the workshop is an engaging blend of cases, research, art, music, exercises, role-plays, and videos that help articulate a conceptual framework and a clear set of clinical guidelines. This project represents a unique partnership between the public mental health system of four counties of California (Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Kern) and two academic institutions (USC and UCLA) to address ethnic and racial disparities in mental health.

We propose to carry out cultural competence workshops for 2050 clinical staff over a five year period. Our hope is that the consumers will be the greatest benefactors of this initiative in that we expect that the training will lead to improved care to consumers of all cultural backgrounds.

Core Competencies  Activity Book   
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