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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. 

New to cultural competence? Start out by reading Important Definitions


Register for the upcoming Qualified Bilingual Staff Training Course in Roanoke.  April 22-24, 2015.  Read more here



Read our 2013-2014 Biennial Report and catch up on what we have been doing over the past two years.  Then, see what plans we have in store for the next two years in our 2015-2016 Biennial Plan.  Would you like to comment?  Please email us at

Trauma-Informed Cross-Cultural Psychoeducation: Refugee Community Leader Training (TI-CCP)- TI-CCP was designed for mental health professionals to engage with and build capacity in refugee community leaders for community-based mental health and psychosocial support and to establish a close partnership and healing environment in the community. TI-CCP adopts two main pillars to guide the training sessions: Trauma-informed and culture-informed approaches.

2015 CLAS ACADEMY CATALOG- To best leverage resources, the OCLC focuses training efforts the implementation of culturally and linguistically appropriate practices, policies, and procedures. Organizations that are interested in longer term planning efforts may arrange academy training as a part of a larger developmental effort.


OCLC equity

Do you want to keep up with the latest research, articles, events, and information related to cultural competence, language access, and health equity in the state and the nation? JOIN THE OCLC GOOGLE GROUP!

Got questions?  Email

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)