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Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

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.

Are you a change agent in your organization? Are you interested in learning more about culturally responsive community living? Join US! 
   Building Bridges IV - Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Racially, Ethnically, and Linguistically Diverse Communities 

               Embracing Cultural Differences in Community Living- An Institute on Building Culturally Sensitive Collaboration 

                                                             October 16, 2014

6 Contact Hours Available
• Rooshey Hasnain, Visiting Research Assistant Professor and Project Director at the Department of Disability and Human Development of the University of Illinois at Chicago
• Outcomes: Through case study and dialogue, attendees will explore how individuals are connected to community organizations and will understand the core purpose of an organizational cultural competency plan
Bridge Sessions
• Outcomes: Through rapid opportunities in small group format, participants will learn more about key bridges to building culturally sensitive and collaborative organizations; will generate ideas under some of the major areas of a cultural competency plan; and will identify at least one action item to support cultural change in their organizations. Bridge sessions will focus on:

  • Community Outreach & Collaboration
  • Language Access & Communication
  • Practices & Service Design
  • Professional Development

$20 registration fee.


In 2013, The Office of Minority Health announced the Enhanced CLAS Standards. This updated framework can be used to better assist organizations to plan for culturally and linguistically relevant services. Read more about those standards and ways to apply them here. New Enhanced CLAS Standards Blueprint


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.  More here

OCLC equity



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)

Health Equity

When all people have "the opportunity to 'attain their full health potential' and no one is 'disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their social position or other socially determined circumstance'".

VDH Office of Minority Health and Health Equity

Health Inequity

A difference or disparity in health outcomes that is systematic, avoidable, and unjust.

Health Disparities

Differences in health status among distinct segments of the population including differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, or living in various geographic localities.

VDH Office of Minority Health and Health Equity

Resources at SAMHSA's Office of Behavioral Health Equity

The SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) works to reduce mental health and substance use disparities among diverse racial and ethnic populations, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. OBHE was established to improve access to quality care and in accordance with section 10334(b) of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which requires six agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish an office of minority affairs.

Social Determinants of Health- Most people recognize that health and wellness are connected to many variables.  The CDC defines the social determinants of health as The complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems that are responsible for most health inequities. These social structures and economic systems include the social environment, physical environment, health services, and structural and societal factors. Social determinants of health are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources throughout local communities, nations, and the world.


Image used with permission from Bolton Health Matters

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