There has been extensive research on behavioral health disparities in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Plus (LGBTQ+) communities. In the early 2000s, several federal agencies published reports that inspired the movement for culturally and linguistically competent care. Works of this time include but are not limited to the Office of the Surgeon General in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ 2001 report, “Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity,” the New Freedom Commission’s 2003 report, “Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America,” and the Institute of Medicine’s 2000 report, ”Unequal Treatment Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.” Twenty years later, California is still working to meet many of these recommendations.
Today, the national movement for racial justice also demands that we, as Californians, build upon the legacy of these seminal works in health disparities and cultural and linguistic competence to form a stronger anti-racist framework. Greater valuation and acceptance of the behavioral health practices that BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities use is a key anti-racism strategy in behavioral health.
This concept paper is an initial attempt to outline policy opportunities and approaches for greater valuation and acceptance of the behavioral health practices BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities have used for many years, and in some cases millennia, to support their behavioral health and wellbeing.
The changes recommended in this paper fall under the jurisdiction of various state authorities, agencies, and local communities. Policymakers have a responsibility to work with communities to identify and take action on the changes within their authority and influence.