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Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI) Webinar Series:
Cultural Diversity in Disability & Mental Health Services

Tuesday September 28 12:00 AM-1:30 PM MTN

Tuesday September 28 12:00 AM-1:30 PM MTN

Tuesday September 28 12:00 AM-1:30 PM MTN

Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI) Webinar Series:

Cultural Diversity in Disability & Mental Health Services

Presenters: Jenean A. Castillo, PhD; Nicole Turygin, PhD; AJ Anderson

Time: September 28, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:30 pm MTN

Flyers to share: accessible PDF and image. CART and ASL interpreters will be provided!

How does a person’s race and ethnicity impact services?

In this webinar, we will discuss how race and ethnicity can affect services for someone with a disability and mental health concern. Our presenters will offer information for families and direct support professionals to reduce inequality and improve knowledge and services for individuals. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Understand what it means to be culturally and linguistically competent
  • Identify ways to be responsive to dually diagnosed individuals from diverse backgrounds
  • Gain understanding from experienced providers and self-advocates 
Jenean Castillo

Jenean A. Castillo, Ph.D. is a New York State Licensed Psychologist and the Director of the federally funded Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) interdisciplinary training program at the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) just 40 minutes north of New York City. Dr. Castillo is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Center for Disability and Health in the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College. Dr. Castillo also serves as WIHD’s Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, actively supporting and enhancing WIHD’s efforts to enhance cultural and linguistic competency to ensure equitable outcomes for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her EDI work includes curriculum development, workforce enhancement, and organizational assessment, policy development and implementation.

Nicole Turygin

Dr. Nicole Turygin, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in the state of New York who also holds a faculty appointment at New York Medical College. She has over 9 years of experience working with challenging behaviors and co-occurring psychiatric conditions in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages and ability levels using evidence-based behavioral interventions. Her clinical and research interests include anxiety disorders, obsessive/compulsive disorders, repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, and aggression.

AJ Anderson

Agique (AJ) Anderson is a self- and peer advocate and mentor. Currently he holds two part-time positions with Taconic Resources for Independence in Poughkeepsie, NY – Peer Advocate and Housing Advocate. He also volunteers as a facilitator for several support groups for LGBTQ+ people with disabilities. He hopes to continue to contribute to helping people with Disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community speak out more, stand up for themselves, and live the life that you choose and want. One thing that has helped him to express himself is writing. One day he hopes to write a book on his life that he hopes will inspire many.

The MHDD NTC and its activities are funded by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), funding opportunity number HHS-2018-ACL-AOD-DDTI-0305.

Previous Webinars

Partner Webinars

These webinars are offered through our various partners. Each webinar has been vetted to ensure it meets the mission and values of the MHDD National Training Center.

The Abbreviated PTSD Checklist-Civilian version (PLC-C) is a shortened PTSD screening tool for civilians. This is meant to be utilized by primary care physicians.

Modules with links to other sources and planning for services and sustainability for people with disabilities.

Developmental disabilities are conditions that affect an individual’s physical, intellectual, and behavioral abilities throughout a person’s life. Families raising a child with a developmental disability face many challenges when accessing services. Ethnic minorities face more difficulties when trying to access disability services. This is because ethnic minorities do not always have enough knowledge about community resources and service providers do not always speak their language or understand their culture.

The author’s family relied on the school system and government funded resources, but they did not know who to talk to or where to go for help. This is common for families of those with a disability, but it happens more with ethnic minorities. Since minorities face more challenges accessing services, they may go long periods of times before finding out their child has a developmental disability. Ethnic minorities are also under diagnosed for developmental disabilities.

Addressing the problem:
  1. Service providers can find resources in Spanish and English here to give to parents (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). This helps families better understand diagnoses. 
  2. Service providers can explain diagnoses in plain language. This can help families understand the effects of the diagnosis on their family.
  3. Service providers can have a list of local support groups for families. These groups help families to process and learn about available resources together.

English is a second language for many ethnic minorities who have come to the United States from all over the world. This can make it difficult to access disability resources. Some Hispanic/Latina mothers feel they do not understand the necessary information because of communication barriers. They felt topics were not explained to them as much as for other people. It is difficult to access services if no one speaks the person’s first language. Language barriers cost people services that could have improved their quality of life. Even when ethnic minorities do access services, these barriers may make it too difficult to use services correctly.

Addressing the problem:
  1. Resources should be provided in various languages to help ethnic minority families better understand diagnoses. Websites like respectability.org can help families make sense of what diagnosis will mean for their lives.
  2. Providers can use translation services to help families. This can help them understand the terms and processes of what changes may occur in their lives.

A major barrier for ethnic minorities accessing and using resources is ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is an attitude that a person’s own culture is more important than someone else’s. Ethnocentrism happens when people do not understand and accept other cultures. This suggests that providers may not understand the cultural experiences of those they are serving. The United States has standards (National CLAS Standards) to urge healthcare professionals to be aware of other cultural practices and beliefs than their own. One vital standard healthcare professionals need to follow it to be responsive to other cultures in order to provide quality care.

Discrimination is another barrier for ethnic minorities accessing services. Discrimination is when people are treated unfairly, because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, age, disability, or another minority status. This contributes to ethnic minorities being referred less to disability services by professionals.

Addressing the problem:
  1. Service providers can find helpful tools for increase their understanding of other cultures here. (University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities)
  2. Providers should become familiar with how developmental disabilities are understood in other cultures. Wenqi Du, of LEND Illinois outlines important considerations here.

Read the full Accessing Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity fact sheet

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy that can help with many different mental health difficulties including depression, anxiety, and other disorders. Recently, ACT has been adapted for use with people who have autism or other developmental disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities).

ACT teaches people how to deal with difficult thoughts and feelings. It also focuses on helping people achieve their goals and better understand their values. ACT accomplishes this through six processes: contacting the present moment, acceptance, thought defusion, understanding the self as context, contact with values, and committed action.

ACT often involves a lot of interactive activities with your therapist. Make sure to ask questions about your therapist’s process and work with your therapist to develop your therapy goals. You’ll learn how to not let uncomfortable thoughts and feelings bother you. These are a natural part of life. You’ll learn how to be the person you want to be and overcome patterns that no longer help you.

As with any therapy relationship, you’ll spend some time getting to know your therapist and making sure they’re a good fit for you. You are always welcome to bring a trusted friend or family member if you prefer.

To learn more, read the MHDD fact sheet on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) analysis and article by type of disability showing mental health disabilities increase likelihood of food insecurity.

green and blue logo for mental health and developmental disability natinoal training center

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