Consumer-Driven Standards and Guidelines in Managed Mental Health for Populations of African Descent

Standard and Guidelines for Access to Clinical Services



Access to services must not only be individually oriented, but also family oriented in the context of the values held by consumers of African descent. Access criteria for different levels of care must include health, medical, behavioral, and functional, in addition to diagnostic. Criteria must be multidimensional including: psychiatric, medical, spiritual, social, behavioral, and community support.


Implementation Guidelines

  1. Specific procedures must be developed to ensure comparability of access across populations and specifically for consumers and families of African descent. African American behavioral health specialists (AABHS) with culturally competent training must be involved in the development of these procedures.
  2. Access must be decentralized and facilitated through multiple community based outreach, case-finding approaches, and in-home mobile assessment. These approaches include strategic co-location within African American community organizations, social service agencies, community action agencies, health centers, churches, Mosques, schools, and neighborhood locales which are accessible to public transportation.
  3. Gate keeping and service authorization for consumers and families of African descent must be performed by or under the supervision of a culturally competent mental health professional.
  4. Equal availability of telephone and other means of access, for consumers and families of African descent must be assured.
  5. Programs serving consumers and families of African descent must provide culturally inviting environments (e.g. decor, ambiance) as measured by consumer satisfaction surveys.
  7. Points of access must demonstrate cultural competency in overcoming barriers to service, such as lack of transportation, lack of child care, cultural insensitivity and attitudes as measured by consumer satisfaction surveys.
  8. Restrictive clinical placements of consumers of African descent must be made only with the involvement and concurrence of culturally competent clinicians. Restrictive placements include inpatient, residential, and involuntary treatment.
  9. The use of telephone numbers (e.g. 1-800) for access must not be exclusive of other points of entry for 24 hour crisis service and must be accompanied by education of consumers and families of African descent in the use of such access procedures. Staff providing telephone access services must be culturally and linguistically competent, and have access to African American mental health staff for consultation.
  10. Legal documentation of citizenship or residency must not be a requirement for service and must not serve as a barrier to service access. Legal status must not be confused with sponsored and unsponsored status.
  11. Consumers and families of African descent must be provided a culturally based orientation and ongoing education as needed about their benefits package in a managed care environment.
  12. Ability to pay must not be a barrier to accessing services in a managed mental health care environment.
  13. Culturally competent provider education about access issues must be documented by the caregiver.
  14. Clinical and functional assessment scales utilized by managed mental health care systems, organizations, or providers must be culturally competent, reliable, and validated for use with consumers and families of African descent.