Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Pan-African Studies

Degree Program

Pan-African Studies, MA

Committee Chair

Best, Latrica E.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Adams, Tomarra A.

Committee Member

Adams, Tomarra A.

Committee Member

Jones, Ricky L.

Committee Member

Perry, Armon R.

Author's Keywords

Cultural competence; Mental Health; African Americans; Health Disparities


Cultural competence is a concept that has been thoroughly investigated in healthcare, but there is a dearth of literature and research on this topic as it pertains to mental health services. In healthcare, research has shown that a lack of cultural competence is directly linked to high levels of misdiagnoses, mistrust of healthcare and professionals, and overall poor health in minority populations. Using the Campinha-Bacote model for cultural competence in health care, I explore how cultural competence is defined and operationalized in an outpatient mental health facility. I hypothesize that, similar to research addressing cultural competency in healthcare systems, cultural competence within this mental health facility is not adequately defined and carried out in its daily operations. In order to assess the potential institutional knowledge and awareness of cultural competence, I initially analyzed all policies, procedures, and training documents of the organization. Next, I conducted 15 semi-structured qualitative interviews of various mental health professionals that worked in the outpatient facility in order to ascertain how each individual defined and employed cultural competence, if at all, throughout their work. In my findings, I discovered that there was no clear definition of cultural competence in any of the organizations handbooks or policies. Furthermore, I found that mental health professionals did not have a clear understanding of cultural competence or that cultural competence is an ongoing process. Lastly, I found that the facility offered no trainings or professional development courses on cultural competence. The information gathered from the study can be beneficial to the facility’s work with diverse populations and aid in future research directions on this subject.