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The Importance of Cultural Competence

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The Importance of Cultural Competence

Blog

The Importance of Cultural Competence

Posted on by Jill Harp

July is National Minority Mental Health Month

By Dr. Tracy Siebers, Clinical Director

July is a special month set aside in our realm of work to recognize the special challenges and rewards associated with providing mental health care to people who are members of minority groups. National Minority Mental Health Month was established in 2008 to raise awareness of the distinctive struggles that underrepresented groups face with regard to cultural stigmas, access to services, and quality mental health care.

Multicultural issues are close to my heart because they were part of my specialization in my doctoral program. As part of my studies and research, I was privileged to work with, and learn from, individuals, couples, and families both on the Hopi Indian Reservation and along the Arizona-Mexico border. These experiences helped me learn how to provide better quality care to people in these distinctive communities.

This month—and every month— is a time to consider the stereotypes and other challenges that members of minority groups have to withstand while simultaneously striving to maintain their wellbeing. The list includes lack of culturally and linguistically quality care, external and internalized racism, and lack of knowledge by majority groups related to their cultural values. The complexity of these challenges is multiplied when we consider the varied cultural backgrounds of underrepresented groups. How can we become more culturally competent in our roles as counselors, therapists, friends, and neighbors?

  • Learn as much as possible. Read research and reports like the newly released national survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health from the Trevor Project.
  • Open your heart and mind to the lived experiences of people of different cultures and identities. Watch Strength Over Silence, a three-part docu-series produced by NAMI on the weighty subjects of courage, culture, and community.
  • Respect, respond, and innovate. Provide services that acknowledge and celebrate diverse cultures and world views, like Centro Esperanza, a Spanish-language counseling service for Latino adults, children and families in our community to access effective, high-quality, culturally appropriate mental health treatment and support.

Together we can do more, be more—and be there for one another.

Dr. Tracy Siebers

In addition to being the clinical director for Samaritan Counseling Center, Dr. Tracy Siebers is a bilingual English and Spanish therapist. She serves children, adolescents, adults, couples and families facing concerns with depression, anxiety, anger management, behavioral problems, cultural adjustment, mindfulness, trauma and borderline personality disorder. She serves clients at Samaritan’s Menasha and Kaukauna locations.


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