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Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

OCLC equity

The DBHDS Office of Cultural & Linguistic Competence (OCLC) 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 *Important Definitions*


National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Media Contest

    This year's 1st place Winner is Fairfax Falls Church Community Services Board - Health Promotion and Prevention Services - With a video highlighting their program called “Primeros Auxilios para la Salud Mental”, the Spanish version of the MHFA training they have been providing since summer 2013 in Falls Church, Springfield, Annandale, Fairfax and Herndon in partnership with churches and other county agencies. See the video and read about additonal winners.


Building Bridges Conference

    Building Bridges IV welcomed over 100 participants interested in cultural considerations in community living in Richmond this past October.  Read more here


2014 Northern Virginia Language Access Leadership Conference

    In this one of a kind discussion on the implementation, funding, sustainment, and evaluation of language services in government, we heard from state and national speakers on a variety of aspects of language access. Developing leadership in this area is critical for advancing this work.  That is the ongoing focus of this annual conference. Materials are available here.

Statewide Refugee Council Summit convened in August 2014

    Through this annual gathering of agency executives, behavioral health professionals, human service providers, and refugee community leaders, the DBHDS Refugee Mental Health Interagency Initiative gathers information on local and regional best practices; successful collaborative efforts; policy and program recommendations related to expanding the number of behavioral health providers prepared to serve refugees within the public and private sector and more.  See additional goals and material about the summit here.


    Talk to us about implementing a Qualified Bilingual Staff program.  Leverage your bilingual staff to ensure effective communication for the individuals you serve and build your language toolbox.




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)