Provider Diana Duncan Works to Remove Barriers to Care for the Minority Community

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — July 10, 2019 — 3 min read
Diana-Duncan.jpgDiana Duncan, co-founded the Minority Coalition of Behavioral Healthcare Providers of Color, has been working for over a decade to improve cultural sensitivity in the mental health field.

Duncan said there’s a mental health crisis within the minority community because there are so many underserved communities and populations.

“In a lot of minority communities and populations, you must be willing to serve the family in order to provide needed mental health service to the individual,” she said. “It is also important that minority communities are given opportunity to see and interact with service providers who look like them.”

In 2002, Duncan, a native of Mecklenburg County and a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, opened Diana’s Homecare, Inc., providing services to Cabarrus, Davidson, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties. She has been a Cardinal Innovations network provider for 18 years and served as chair of the Provider Cultural Competence Sub-Committee for those five counties for 12 years. As chair, Duncan also serves on the Cultural Competence Advisory Committee, a larger group that brings Cardinal Innovations staff together with providers from all of the organization’s regions.

Duncan said she became involved with the Cultural Competence Committee because “the need for cultural sensitivity within agencies and organizations had become very apparent across the state. It was important that all people receiving and providing services be given equal opportunities and this committee could help provide guidelines to accomplish this.”  

Some of her proudest accomplishments as part of that group are:
  1. Helping to initiate and develop the “Cultural Competence Plan”
  2. Assisting with developing and implementing provider training in Cultural Competence
  3. Presenting across the state on developing Cultural Competence Committees
  4. Assisting with the development of the Provider Monitoring Tool
  5. Being selected to participate in the question and answer panel for Cardinal Innovations during the consolidation with Mecklenburg County’s MeckLink 
Ten years ago, Duncan co-founded the Minority Coalition of Behavioral Healthcare Providers of Color to work to eliminate competitive and political barriers that providers face by increasing access, collaboration, sustainability and the incorporation of best practices among the minority providers and member community.

The Minority Coalition was organized to address the growing issues for minority providers including accessing resources to help them provide services, receive referrals, and to advocate for minority people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health and/or substance use disorders.

“We continue to support and promote minority communities that are being underserved,” she said. “We try to eliminate the competitive barriers that impede access, growth and collaboration as well as increasing parity in communication, resources and funding to sustain business models based on best practices and delivery of services.”

Minority providers often need resources to help develop financial acumen and cross-cultural proficiency. “We develop ways to eliminate barriers,” she said. “These were just some of the issues that minority providers struggled with in order to sustain best practices.”

Duncan said the Minority Coalition has taken its membership statewide since it was formed. In 2018, it was one of the organizations that received a Community Reinvestment Award from Cardinal Innovations. The Minority Coalition also was selected to present its pilot program on Integrated and Collaborative Care at the i2i Conference in Raleigh, N.C. 

When she thinks about mental health, Duncan says it’s important to “always remember that we are all just a stone’s throw away from having a mental health issue. You don’t have to be born with it and it is not limited to certain populations of people.”
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