Cultural Competency

Cultural Competency

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Cultural Competency Unit

The Cultural Competency Unit is housed within the Planning, Outreach and Engagement Division. The Unit functions as an internal Departmental mechanism that is integral to the planning, assessment, and evaluation of mental health services that are culturally and linguistically responsive to the unique needs of the Los Angeles County diverse communities. The objective of the Unit is to increase service accessibility for the ethnically and linguistically diverse communities.

The Unit is committed to providing the technical assistance, the education, and the training necessary to integrate cultural competency in all the Department’s operations.

Cultural Competency Committee

The Cultural Competency Committee (CCC) was elevated to Committee status in May 2010 after the State DMH specified it as a cultural competence plan requirement.  The overarching goal of the CCC is to promote cultural awareness and sensitivity in The Department’s response to the needs of diverse and underserved populations. It is comprised by DMH staff, contracted providers and consumers who are interested in seeing The Department make further progress in the provision of culturally and linguistically competent services.

  • At present, the CCC is providing support and program-specific data toward the implementation of the 2010 Cultural Competence Plan Requirements (CCPR).  It also functions as a vehicle for the achievement of the Cultural Competency Unit goals, such as translation of key LAC-DMH forms into the threshold languages.  The CCC has determined that translations of DMH forms into the threshold languages are a high priority and therefore compiled a prioritized list of documents recommended for translation. Additionally, the CCC has on-going collaboration with the Training Division in reviewing all trainings for cultural competency content.  The E-news CC project was also originated by the CCC as means to disseminate information to the DMH family on a variety of topics directly pertinent to cultural competency.  The CCC also collaborates with the QIC and with Service Area based QIC subcommittees.
  • CCC Organizational Chart
  • CCC Demographics Chart

Examples of past CCC activities include:

  • Identification and review of LAC-DMH Policy & Procedures that tap into cultural competency
  • Provided recommendations and feedback on the WET and Innovation MHSA plans
  • Revision of the training evaluation form to include questions rating the cultural competency content of trainings
  • Collaboration with the Quality Improvement Division/Data-Unit Geographical Information Systems Unit) on the Provider Directory
  • Identified cultural competency pertinent materials to be included in both the Medi-Cal and CA-EQRO audits.

Cultural Competency and the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)
The MHSA lists several guidelines that are relevant to Cultural Competency:

  • The focus on reaching out and serving the underserved, the un-served, and the inappropriately served populations.
  • The focus on reaching out for the underrepresented ethnic populations (UREP)
  • The integration of consumers, family members, parents and caregivers in the Department’s workforce.
  • The focus on culturally and linguistically competent mental health services.
  • The adoption of “whatever it takes” perspective to provide hope to our consumers and their family members and to help our consumers recover

LAC DMH Resources

I. Cultural Competency Related Policies

II. Cultural Competency Glossary

Definitions that operationalize the aim and scope of the LAC-DMH Cultural Competency Unit:

1)   Culture

The integrated pattern of human behavior that includes though, communication, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group. ** (Cross, et al, 1989). Culture defines the preferred ways for meeting needs.  Culture may include parameters such as ethnicity, race, language, age, country of origin, acculturation, gender, socioeconomic class, disability, religious and spiritual beliefs, and sexual orientation (California Department of Mental Health, 2002).

2)   Cultural Competency

  • Refers to the ability of organizations and individuals to work effectively in cross-cultural or multicultural situations.
  • Emphasizes the interaction/communication with diverse communities and among ethnic groups to assess their needs and effectively engage with them.
  • It is an evolving process.
  • It’s core is “quality of care”.

3) Organizational Cultural Competency

The existence of policies, procedures, practices, and organizational infrastructure to support the delivery of culturally and linguistically sensitive and appropriate health care services where “culture” is broadly defined. (California Department of Mental Health, 2002).

4) Individual Cultural Competency

Set of congruent attitudes, knowledge, and skills that enable the person or individual to interact effectively in cross-sectional situations.  (Cross et al, 1989)**

** Cross, et al, 1989.  Towards a culturally competent system of care: A monograph on effective services for minority children who are severely emotionally disturbed, Volume 1.

III. LAC-DMH 2008 Organizational Assessment Findings

IV. LAC-DMH 2010 Cultural Competence Plan

V. Other Resources:

Mental Health, Culture, Race, and ethnicity in the Supplement to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General

The Early Childhood Research Institute on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services engages in research, training, and dissemination on practices that are sensitive to children from culturally and linguistically diverse families. 

The National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) provides technical assistance, consultiation, training, and resources on cultural competence, including tools for self-assessment.

VI. Data

  • 2000 Census

Sandra Chang-Ptasinski, Ph.D.
(213) 251-6815