Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Cultural Competence

Man smiling in the grass

Cultural competence describes the ability of an individual or organization to interact effectively with people of different cultures. To produce positive change, prevention practitioners must understand the cultural context of their target community, and have the willingness and skills to work within this context. This means drawing on community-based values, traditions, and customs, and working with knowledgeable persons of and from the community to plan, implement, and evaluate prevention activities. More...

Culture must be considered at every step of the Strategic Prevention Framework in order for diverse populations to benefit from selected interventions. While people often think of culture in terms of race or ethnicity, there are many other elements—some that are easy to see and others that are hidden. Cultural competence means being respectful and responsive to the health beliefs, practices, and cultural and linguistic needs of diverse population groups. Lastly, developing cultural competence is an evolving, dynamic process that takes time and occurs along a continuum.

Many grantees have developed materials related to and/or describing their assessment processes. Links to these materials are contained on their respective State, Tribe, or Jurisdiction pages. Click here to access these resources.

Selected SAMHSA's CAPT Services

Assist States, Tribes, and Jurisdictions to:

  • Involve representatives from across sectors in all SPF steps
  • Collect information in culturally-appropriate ways
  • Address data gaps
  • Build the evaluation capacity of innovative programs that address the needs of specific, hard-to-reach populations