Identity and Cultural Dimensions

A person’s beliefs, norms, values and language affect how we perceive and experience mental health conditions. Cultural differences can influence whether or not we seek help, what type of help we seek, what coping styles and supports we have and what treatments might work for us.

Diverse communities face many barriers such as higher levels of stigma, misinformation about mental health and language that prevent them from receiving care. Even when they are able to access treatment, these communities often receive poorer quality care due to lack of cultural competence, bias and inadequate resources. This results in misdiagnosis, dropping out of treatment and a longer time to achieve recovery.

However, when a mental health professional does take into account cultural needs and differences, outcomes can be significantly improved.

How You Can Promote a Culture of Equity and Inclusion


  • Be an advocate when there is an opportunity to speak out on behalf of mental health for underrepresented groups and communities.
  • Share information you’ve learned about what forms quality care from a cultural and equity lens.
  • Show compassion and seek to understand the experience of individuals with identities different from your own.
    • Do not assume that low treatment rates by members of a cultural or social group is due to a lack of effort in seeking care. Instead, consider any underlying challenges — individuals are less likely to seek help or engage in treatment if they cannot find a provider they can trust, who understands their identity and will treat them with dignity and respect.
  • Write, call or talk to legislators — both local and federal — to support efforts to:
    • Improve access to and the quality of mental health services for those who are underserved.
    • Ensure providers are trained on cultural competence.
    • Make linguistic services (interpretation and translation) available in treatment settings.


  • Follow the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Provide equitable and respectful quality care and services that are inclusive of the cultural health beliefs and practices of the community you serve.
  • Offer free language assistance and other needed assistance to individuals with limited English proficiency.
  • Hire diverse, bilingual staff that are representative of the community served.

We're Here to Listen

In Crisis?

Butler County Mental Health Crisis Services can be accessed by calling 1-800-292-3866 or by texting #63288.

Crisis services operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (the Lifeline)

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

24/7 Crisis workers available to support you


Your financial contribution to NAMI helps create a world where all people affected by mental illness can experience hope, recovery, wellness and freedom from stigma.