Cultural Competency

The Mental Health Association of Rockland County (MHA) seeks to provide quality and equitable care for all people.  We recognize the crucial role culture plays in achieving this goal, and strive to incorporate the following beliefs and practices into our work:

The Importance of Culture

The MHA understands that culture is the lifeblood of a people – for it defines their humanity. Intrinsic to each individual has a cultural/ethnic identity, which shapes their beliefs, behaviors and social needs.  It is these individuals that make up the rich tapestry of our community.  

The Role Culture Plays in Service Delivery

As part of that understanding we seek to acknowledge and respect our clients’ varied cultural identities, including but not limited to nationality, race, language, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and disability, and strive to understand how these identities shape client beliefs of health and well-being.  We then attempt to incorporate those beliefs into our service delivery.   It is only by doing so that the MHA can hope to attain the highest possible level of cultural competency.

Increasing our Awareness & Knowledge Base

We are cognizant that any organization’s efforts to providing culturally competent care are a continual work in progress. As such, we have a strong commitment to continuous learning, discussion and constructive debate via both organizational and informal relationships with our local community, New York State and the country. Further, the agency embraces the notion that people of all cultures can be supported in being successful and that “Recovery Is Possible.“ That philosophy is a hallmark of the Agency.

The following gives a snapshot of specific past and present endeavors:

Formation of a Cultural Competency Committee to respond to a recognized need by the agency to reflect the ever-expanding diverse population of both staff and consumers. The Committee develops, implements and monitors agency practices and procedures and recommends policies to the President/CEO that will enable the agency to become and remain culturally competent. 

Cultural competency trainings are done on an ongoing basis for staff, board members, volunteers and interns.  Training protocols include:

  • the race construct in the United States and White Privilege
  • cultural barriers to good treatment and tools to overcome them
  • health care disparities in the United States
  • Concerted efforts to align ourselves with the following anti-racist training organizations who are currently engaged in a national, regional and local effort to bring this analysis to schools, social work institutions, corporate America and other health-related agencies.

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond: The People’s Institute is a premier national and international organization that provides its trademark Undoing Racism workshops both here and abroad to agency executives, corporate CEOs, teachers, health care professionals, clergy and all other disciplines and interested entities who believe in an equitable society free of racial, sexual and all other forms of oppression.

AntiRacist Alliance: The AntiRacist Alliance is an organized collective of human service practitioners and educators dedicated to bringing the  analysis to higher education social work programs in the NYC metropolitan area.  The Alliance has developed in–house teaching protocols on both the undergraduate and graduate level which have become an integral part of social work degree curricula.

Volunteer Counseling Services of Rockland County:  VCS’ Community Change Project is dedicated to the dismantling of racism throughout the Rockland community and for more than a decade has provided subsidized training opportunities for people who work and live in Rockland.  This organization provides, “Train The Trainer” opportunities to organizations interested in dismantling racism and all forms of oppression in our local institutions and public facilities.

Cultural Competency Committee

The Cultural Competency Committee was formed in response to a recognized need by the agency to reflect the ever-expanding diverse population of both staff and consumers. The belief of the committee is that we need to make use of all resources in a diverse community and recognize all people as people but having different perspectives and worldviews. It is important that MHA see each person as having a history and culture and by understanding their history and culture we will be better able to provide appropriate services.

“The mission of the Cultural Competency Committee is to collaboratively address issues related to consumer and staff diversity i.e., racism, all forms of oppression and discrimination with the Mental Health Association of Rockland County. We will develop, implement and monitor practices, procedures and recommend policies to the President that will enable the agency to become and remain culturally competent and serve the diverse populations of Rockland County.”

For more information about MHA of Rockland’s Cultural Equity Task Force, please click here.