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Cultural and Linguistic Competency

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services believes that Cultural and Linguistic Competence is a process necessary to support recovery and to deliver consumer-driven and person-centered mental health services. OhioMHAS considers cultural and linguistic competence when developing statewide policies, programs, and practices because services are most effective when delivered in a culturally competent way.

Strategies for Effective Engagement

  • Culturally Competent Stigma Reduction
  • Strategies for Effectively Engaging Minority Communities

State of Ohio Competence Definition

Cultural Competence is a continuous learning process that builds knowledge, awareness, skills and capacity to identify, understand and respect the unique beliefs, values, customs, languages, abilities and traditions of all Ohioans in order to develop policies to promote effective programs and services.


Program Background

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services considers race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geography, and faith, and/or disability (such as deafness) when assessing populations across the state.

OhioMHAS has two approaches to eliminating behavioral health disparities. First, the agency develops appropriate internal policies and guidelines to improve access of treatment and community recovery support services.

Second, the agency supports training, needs assessments and research. Specific research studies are conducted through the agency's Office of Quality Planning and Research or in partnership with the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence (MACC).

In addition, a staff lead supports OhioMHAS equity work by:

  • providing technical assistance to stakeholders seeking information or resources about disparities or cultural and linguistic competence;
  • improving the availability and utilization of data to reduce disparities;
  • organizing training opportunities to enhance OhioMHAS staff and community development;
  • identifying grant opportunities to support OhioMHAS initiatives and community programs
  • collaborating with statewide partners to develop a cross-systems approach to eliminating health and behavioral health disparities; and
  • managing OhioMHAS grants dedicated to reducing behavioral health disparities

MACC promotes culturally and linguistically appropriate services in Ohio through an annual cultural competence conference, cultural competence trainings, research on cultural competency practices, partnering with systems and organizations, and the promotion of cultural competence resources. By conducting a thorough needs assessment, MACC has identified how Ohio's various race, ethnic, and cultural groups perceive and respond to mental illness. Using this information, MACC develops reports to share with local mental health boards and agencies with the goal of enhancing their ability to deliver culturally and linguistically appropriate services. For more information visit the MACC website.

Advisory Committee

The creation of a Disparities and Cultural Competence (DACC) Advisory Committee is one of four strategies identified in OhioMHAS’s strategic plan to address health disparities. The DACC Advisory Committee is composed of OhioMHAS program staff, other state agency representatives and external community members. The committee will collaborate with the department to infuse cultural competency and promote adoption of new strategies in stakeholder organizations across the state.

National Approach

SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity

SAMHSA's Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) coordinates agency efforts to reduce behavioral health disparities for diverse populations. OBHE seeks to impact SAMHSA policy and initiatives by:

  • Creating a more strategic focus on racial; ethnic; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations in SAMHSA investments
  • Using a data-informed quality improvement approach to address racial and ethnic disparities in SAMHSA programs
  • Building on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) attention to health disparities to influence how SAMHSA does its work, including grant-making operations and policy development

The Office of Behavioral Health Equity's five key strategies:

  1. The Data Strategy ensures that SAMHSA surveillance and performance data guide program planning to address behavioral health disparities.
  2. The Communication Strategy promotes awareness and access to information about behavioral health disparities.
  3. The Policy Strategy addresses relevant disparity issues and behavioral health equity by targeting these issues in SAMHSA policy and funding initiatives.
  4. The Quality Practice and Workforce Development Strategy creates and supports innovative, cost effective trainings that contribute to a well-trained, high quality, diverse workforce.
  5. The Customer Service/Technical Assistance Strategy establishes OBHE as a trusted broker of disparity-related information and experts.

HHS Office of Minority Health

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) was created in 1986 and is one of the most significant outcomes of the 1985 Secretary's Task Force Report on Black and Minority Health. The Office is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.
Poor health outcomes for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are apparent when comparing their health indicators against those of the rest of the U.S. population. These populations experience higher rates of illness and death from health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, specific cancers, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, hepatitis B, and overweight and obesity. OMH's primary responsibility is to improve health and healthcare outcomes for racial and ethnic minority communities by developing or advancing policies, programs, and practices that address health, social, economic, environmental and other factors which impact health.
OMH programs address disease prevention, health promotion, risk reduction, healthier lifestyle choices, use of health care services, and barriers to health care. The Office also:

  1. Promotes the collection of health data by racial, ethnic, and primary language categories and strengthening infrastructures for data collection, reporting, and sharing;
  2. Works to increase awareness of the major health problems of racial and ethnic minorities and factors that influence health;
  3. Establishes and strengthens networks, coalitions, and partnerships to identify and solve health problems;
  4. Develops and promotes policies, programs, and practices to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity;
  5. Fosters research, demonstrations, scientific investigations, and evaluations aimed at improving health;
  6. Funds demonstration programs that can inform health policy and the effectiveness of strategies for improving health.

National Grants