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

Standard and Guidelines for Styles of Communication



Cross cultural communication support must be provided at the option of consumers of African descent and their families at no additional cost. Consumers of African descent may speak a variety of dialects, languages, or communicate in non-standard English. Access to communication services must be available at each point of entry into the system and throughout the system. Culturally informed individuals must be utilized but are not an acceptable substitute for culturally competent staff. Culturally proficient interpretative services are necessary for quality clinical care provision to consumers of African descent.


Implementation Guidelines

  1. The use of family members as culturally informed individuals, including children when appropriate, must be encouraged.
  2. Culturally informed individuals, working with consumers of African descent and their families, must be supervised by a culturally competent clinical provider.
  3. Training must be provided to mono-cultural clinicians in the recognition and navigation of cross cultural communication styles used by consumers of African descent and their families.
  4. All pertinent materials and forms, especially consent and statements of rights, provided to consumers of African descent and their families must be interpreted from the appropriate cultural perspective, as measured by consumer satisfaction surveys.
  5. Individuals with culturally different or unique communication styles must only be placed in restricted residential settings that have the capacity to communicate with them effectively.
  6. A single fixed point of administrative responsibility for cross-cultural communication support services must be designated.
  7. Sufficient numbers of culturally competent professional staff of African descent must be available in managed mental health services to support the work of culturally informed individuals.
  8. A regularly updated directory of culturally informed individuals, who are available within twenty-four hours for routine and within one hour for urgent situations must be maintained by the mental health organization.
  9. All levels of care must meet the standards for the provision of cross-cultural communication support.
  10. Providers in a managed care setting must be able to understand and interpret a broad series of culturally specific verbal and non-verbal responses by consumers of African descent.
  11. Where reading materials, instructions, or information is essential, managed care providers must offer appropriate assistance to ensure that the consumer of African descent understands what is being communicated.