NAMI
National Alliance on Mental Illness
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About the NAMI Multicultural Action Center

Policy Priorities

Health Disparities

The significant progress made in discovering effective treatments for serious mental illness has unfortunately not translated into better services for people of diverse populations living with these illnesses. The Multicultural Action Center collaborates with other organizations and coalitions to advocate for equal access to mental health treatment for diverse communities.

Cultural Competence in Service Delivery

Many mental health providers are ill-equipped to meet the needs of patients from different backgrounds and often times display bias in the delivery of care. The Multicultural Action Center addresses this issue by highlighting current effective cultural competence standards promoting successful programs and institutions, and promoting the implementation of laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act that requires providers to ensure that limited English proficient individuals have equal access to services. Furthermore, the Center provides training and technical assistance to NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates to encourage that all NAMI programs and services are culturally competent and available to people from diverse communities.

Increase of Bicultural/Bilingual Mental Health Professionals

There are not enough bilingual/bicultural mental health providers. This reality makes quality care less accessible for people of diverse communities. NAMI’s Multicultural Center works to highlight and advocate for programs to promote mental health careers as viable options for youth of traditionally underserved communities.

Research

Genetic research has highlighted significant differences among racial and ethnic groups in the metabolism, clinical effectiveness and side effects of medications. Far too often diverse communities are underrepresented in clinical trials and research studies. The Multicultural Action Center disseminates news about existing research and advocates for increased funding for research centered in diverse communities.

Children and Adolescents with Mental Illness

Depression and suicide rates are higher among teens of diverse communities. Youth of color and LGBT identified youth face higher rates of misdiagnosis and over-institutionalization. The Multicultural Action Center works closely with NAMI’s Children and Adolescent Action Center and partner organizations to advocate for youth system reforms and to implement practices and programs appropriate for children of diverse communities and their families.

Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems

People with mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. People with mental illnesses who are from diverse communities are also overrepresented in these systems. The Multicultural Action Center advocates for access to appropriate diagnosis and treatment for people in these systems, and promotes culturally appropriate jail diversion programs.

NAMI Public Policy Platform: Cultural diversity is a priority in NAMI's policy platform.

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