Cultural Competency: What Health Care Providers Need to Know

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — July 21, 2020 — 4 min read
Effective mental health providers know that cultural differences exist between themselves and the members they serve, and they use that knowledge to find the best ways to help.

July is National Minority Mental Health Month, making it a great time for providers and community stakeholders to think about cultural competency. One activity to consider this month is to explore the components of cultural competency and consider how these affect treatment and outcomes for individuals seeking mental health assistance.

There are four components of cultural competency, which include:
  • Being aware of your own cultural worldview
  • Knowing your attitude toward cultural differences
  • Learning the different cultural practices and worldviews of the people you serve
  • Developing cross-cultural skills

How to Start Practicing Cultural Competency

Think about your own worldview. Then research how others may perceive the world differently. This can improve your ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. It also leads to better treatment and outcomes.  

Each Culture Has a Different Understanding of Mental Health

For example, if you are treating an Asian American, it will help to know how mental illness is perceived in that culture. Asian Americans are three times less likely than their white counterparts to seek treatment for mental health concerns because the perception is that seeking help for mental illness is shameful, according to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America.

Each culture has its own unique beliefs. Black Americans may tend to turn to religion before seeking mental health treatment from a trained therapist or psychiatrist.

Latino, or Hispanic, individuals may describe their symptoms of depression as nervousness, tiredness or as another physical symptom, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Knowing that can help a doctor recognize that the person is describing depression.

Virtual Cultural Competency Trainings Through Cardinal Innovations

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare is developing virtual trainings to help providers improve the cultural competency of the care they offer. More to come on that soon.

In the meantime, virtual training is also available from other sources including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which offers several programs that can also be taken for continuing education credits.

Cultural Competency Trainings from HHS

HHS offers the following virtual trainings and resources:

Cultural Competency Trainings for Providers Engaging with Youth

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers several webinars on providing culturally competent care to individuals who have trauma-related mental health diagnoses. Racial minority groups show higher levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health disorders, according NCTSN.
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Here are a few of the available NCTSN webinars:

National Alliance on Mental Illness Cultural Competency Trainings:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers these trainings:
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