Working Towards a Culturally-Informed Behavioral Health Practice

Author: Caroline Johnson, Communications Coordinator
Date: 9/17/2019 11:32:33 AM

Three hundred staff across the Behavioral Health Department were trained by Dr. Leola Dublin Macmillan in August.


Staff from the Behavioral Health Department completed cultural competence training on Working Towards a Culturally-Informed Behavioral Health Practice last month. The all-day training, sponsored by Behavioral Health's Cultural Competence Committee and presented by Dr. Leola Dublin Macmillian, focused on the importance of building a beloved community in San Luis Obispo by understanding how intersectionality, structural inequality and cultural proficiency affect the behavioral health practice and experience.

Anne Robin, Behavioral Health Director, recognized the importance of this particular training for staff saying, "Becoming a more culturally competent and aware Behavioral Health Department requires staff to not only learn about the world view of others; but more importantly, to look at one’s own internal assumptions, biases, and responses to people who may not represent our own world view and experience. While this can be challenging and uncomfortable, it is also essential for staff in order to provide compassionate, well informed, and adaptable services to a wide range of clients."

The training helped staff recognize health care disparities among marginalized and underserved populations who access mental heath and drug and alcohol services. 

"Learning from others about their perspective on the world and their personal experiences leads to better treatment and outcomes. Respectful inquiry when one is presented with differences is just a first step in developing a welcoming, safe experience for clients and staff," Robin said.

The Cultural Competence Committee is composed of staff from across multiple health organizations and strives to create and foster a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive mental health system. One of the group's primary roles is to ensure services and programs are culturally and linguistically appropriate. The committee sponsors and develops activities that include several trainings focused on different populations based on our local needs.

Nestor Veloz-Passalacqua, Behavioral Health Ethnic Services Manager, said, "To ensure our vision, we will continue to move within the cultural competence continuum to improve the personal and systemic engagement process for our clients."