Parent Alert | June 2021 | Cultural Competence In Prevention

Parent Alert | June 2021
Cultural Competence In Prevention
Why It Matters
Cultural competence lies at the heart of all prevention. Effective prevention begins with understanding our community's needs as we study its demographics and cultural intricacies.

While race is a vital aspect of cultural competence, it's only one part. Take a look at the graphic below to review the many facets that make up culture:

Provided by Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities
Now, let's begin to assess the demographic in Wayne County (U.S. Census Bureau):

  • 15% of households do not own a computer and over 20% of homes do not have Internet access
  • 13.5% of people did not graduate High School
  • 12.2% have no insurance
  • 11.4% speak a language other than English in the home
  • 9.9% live in poverty
  • 9% have a disability
  • 2.1% Hispanic or Latino, 1.8% two or more races, 1.6% African American, 1.1% Asian
This image is provided by NWHU
A foundation stone of cultural competence is understanding the difference between equality and equity. The above graphic provides an excellent picture that captures these two terms.

  • Equality: to "have exactly the same amount of the exact same items"
    • Example: Sales tax, which is the same no matter who is purchasing the item
  • Equity: "giving more to those who need it"
    • Example: The Americans with Disabilities Act, which provides such individuals with easier access to public places (ramps for wheelchairs, etc.)

Equity is non-negotiable when it comes to cultural competence. Providing everyone with the exact same resources does not account for those who have more barriers to overcome. Instead, people should have access to resources and services based on their specific needs.

This graphic is provided by NCMFT Asheville, NC
What does all this have to do with prevention? Many of us know that substance use policies and enforcement disproportionately affect marginalized people groups.

For example, in the '80s and '90s tobacco companies specifically targeted the black community with their menthol cigarette ads, assuring them of the safety of their products. This sad history explains why a large number of black individuals from that era ended up addicted to nicotine.

As Coalition members, we discuss how to reach a specific demographic in our area by thinking in terms of how to bring them to the table, not simply how to "help" them. Remember, no one knows how to reach a population better than a member of that same population.

A common phrase people use to encapsulate this idea is "Nothing about us without us."

No matter what outreach we are working on, cultural diversity should be at the forefront of our minds for the most targeted efforts, which involve actively seeking ways to connect with other cultures. Sometimes that means going to an event they are hosting.

Finally, be careful when asking questions. Often our inquiries are well-meaning, but we can unintentionally offend someone if we don't already have a strong bond with them. Build the relationship first before asking questions about their culture.

Understanding Culture & Black Health
Learn More:

Thank you for being
a vital part of our community!

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or substance misuse, get help now: