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Cultural Competence and Health Equity

Naiya Drayton, Intern

There have been many definitions of what cultural competence means. The American Psychological Association has defined cultural competence as "the ability to understand, appreciate and interact with people from culures or belief systems different from one's own" (2015).

The Centers for Disease Control define Health Equity as when each person can attain full health potential and no one is being disadvantaged from achieving this because of their social position, or socially determined circumstance(March, 2022). Healthy equity and cultural competence are very vital factors that influence mental health, healthcare, and the society as a whole. They tie into one another with cultural competence helping to improve health equity.



Lacking cultural competence can actually lead to many negative things when talking about mental health. It can lead to underdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, ineffective treatment, and more for the people who recieve care from providers that lack cultural competence.

Cultural will provide a better relationship between the practitioners and patients. Therapist and other practitioners will have a better relationship with patients. Patients will feel more comfartable and at ease with a practitioner that is more culturally competent.

Health equity is also similarily important for the same reasons as cultural competence. Although rates of mental illness are similar between different ethnic groups only 1 in 3 African Americans who need mental health care recieve it (American Psychiatric Association, 2017). Structural bias, social inequalities and racism all contribute to the lack of health equity.


*The first step toward being culturally competent is learning about yourself. Learning about your own culture and history will help you understand where you fit and how you differ from others around you.

*Next you should take the time to learn about different cultures around you. This will help you to be more open and accept differences.

* Lastly, you should interact with diverse groups. This is a great way to become culturally competent because you will gain first hand experience how different cultures are. You can do this by volunteering at place that are culturally different from you.

The best way that we can attain health equity is to recognize it and require it as a priority in the health care system. We must recognize the race related disparities in healthcare and how physician may contribute to disparties.

Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequalities, and racism undermine health and create challegnes to achieving health equity.

Moving Foward:

The main step to move foward with these issues is take action!

For health equity we must confront institutional racism and structural bias. within health systems. This is done by reviewing policies, and making sure there is a commitment to diversity and inclusion within the organization.

For cultural competence it is important to remember this is something should be continusiouly worked on. Populations change over time and you can be exposed to something new any day. The key is to keep an open mind!



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