Cultural Competence Standards in Managed Care Mental Health Services for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans

Communication Styles and Linguistic Support



Cross cultural communication support shall be provided at the option of APIA consumers and their families at no additional cost to them. APIA consumers may speak a variety of dialects, or languages, and communicate nonverbally in culturally-specific ways. Access to communication services shall be available at each point of entry into the system and throughout the system. Trained interpreters, who are paid for their services, shall be utilized only in the absence of APIA culturally competent and bilingual Mental Health Specialists.


Implementation Guidelines

  1. Training shall be provided to all clinicians in the use of trained interpreters for APIA consumers and their families. This training shall emphasize linguistics and culture.
  2. All pertinent APIA consumer and family materials and forms, especially informed consent and statements of rights, shall be translated into the APIA consumers’ preferred language. Questions and concerns shall be actively solicited.
  3. Restricted or residential settings shall have the capacity to communicate effectively with monolingual, non-English speakers of APIA background, and with APIA individuals who have culturally different or unique communication styles. If this is not possible, placement facilities shall make and document every attempt to procure an appropriate interpreter.
  4. The Health Plan for the APIA consumer shall designate a single fixed point of administrative responsibility for cross-cultural communication support services.
  5. An annual updated directory of paid, trained APIA interpreters, who are available within twenty-four hours for routine situations and within one hour for urgent situations shall be maintained by the mental health organization.


Recommended Performance Indicators

  1. Program in place to train clinicians in the use of trained interpreters for APIA consumers and families.
  2. Availability of materials and forms in APIA consumers’ preferred language and literacy level.
  3. Procedures in place to ensure effective communication with monolingual, non-English speakers of APIA backgrounds.
  4. Program in place to provide APIA consumers and their families with a single point of contact for cross-cultural communication support services.
  5. Presence of an updated directory of trained APIA interpreters.


Recommended Outcomes

  1. Documentation of clinician training in the use of APIA interpreters.
    Benchmark: 100% documentation.
  2. APIA consumer satisfaction with available literature and forms.
    Benchmark: 90% consumer satisfaction.
  3. APIA consumer satisfaction with availability of interpreters across support services.
    Benchmark: 90% consumer satisfaction.