Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
CLAS-ifying Care: Reducing Behavioral Health Disparities Through Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services
(School of Public Health (UMD) Public Health Science Undergraduate Student)
Objectives: To ensure that every individual has the opportunity to receive culturally and linguistically appropriate services in increasingly diverse Children’s Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) communities, it is vital for grantees to identify and apply strategies for implementing culturally and linguistically competent SOCs. The purpose of this research is to review and describe the National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards. Approach: The Children’s Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) grantees appropriately address the needs of diverse populations in Systems of Care (SOC) and ensure that supports and services are culturally and linguistically competent. The CMHI National Evaluation Team collected data through a comprehensive review of documents such as grant applications, Behavioral Health Disparities Impact Statements, and other literature. Findings: The CMHI National Evaluation Team identified common strategies that grantees are using to improve services in SOC by adhering to CLAS standards. These themes are related to ensuring that the governance, management, policies, procedures, as well as support and services at local service delivery levels are culturally and linguistically competent. Conclusions: Findings from the study demonstrate the relevance of National CLAS Standards in reducing health disparities within SOC. Additionally, these findings could serve as a guide for future grantees to deliver better targeted services that are more culturally and linguistically appropriate. Public Health Significance: One of the main objectives of Healthy People 2020 is to improve mental health outcomes through prevention by ensuring access to appropriate, quality mental health services. Healthy People 2020 also emphasizes the importance of reducing health disparities by creating social and physical environments that promote better health for all. It is important for health professionals to understand how social factors such as culture, affects mental health outcomes. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s CMHI program funds grantees to develop mental health systems that improve outcomes for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families. CMHI grantees are committed to implementing SOC within the National CLAS Standards to reduce health disparities.