The Beat: Cultural Competence

December 18, 2012

We all get by with a little help from our friends, so why not empower young adults to support their peers diagnosed with a mental illness? That is the thinking behind the Mental Health Campaign for Mental Health Recovery, which seeks to educate 18- to 25-year-olds so they can support friends and classmates struggling with mental illness.

Photograph of two teen girls talking and smiling.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration oversees the campaign and a website aimed at promoting it. The site, called What a Difference a Friend Makes, includes

  • Information about conditions like depression and...
December 17, 2012

Photograph of a Latina teen girl wearing a red AIDS awareness ribbon on her blouse.Minority youth tend to face more negative consequences from having sex—things like sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy—than do their white peers. Three recent studies explore some of the potential reasons for this difference to see how programs can help minority teens make healthier choices.

Knowledge Is Power

Two sets of researchers conducted studies of minority youth to see what they knew about topics like condoms, HIV/AIDS, and unplanned pregnancy. One group looked at characteristics of participants based on their answers to a survey, while the other...

November 01, 2012

Photograph of a young person dressed in traditional Native American clothing, including beads and feathers.November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, a time for celebrating the ancestry and traditions of Native cultures. Here are some resources that help young adults embrace their heritage and connect with peers throughout the year:

October 23, 2012

Youth on fire logo, showing a hand reaching up through a flame.We've been marking National Domestic Violence and National Bullying Awareness Months this October. Many homeless youth have experienced all sorts of violence, and programs that serve them are responding by using "trauma-informed" approaches. We're reprinting this article about how one youth-serving organization made itself a safer space for young people who've experienced violence and trauma.

To Ayala Livny, it just didn’t feel right.

When she was first hired as a front-line case manager at...

October 15, 2012

Photograph of diverse young adults talking over coffee and laptop computers.When Marguerita Lightfoot and her colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles set about to study ways to keep runaway and homeless youth from having risky sex and using drugs, they intended to enlist youth in a randomized controlled trial. Youth at nine agencies would be randomly selected, in a process not unlike a coin toss, to take part in a program called Street Smart. Those youth would be compared to a “control group” that didn’t do the program.

But Lightfoot, who now co-directs the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of...

August 09, 2012

Photograph of a teen boy carrying a duffel bag and school books.With school back in session soon, this could come in handy: A new brief from the National Center for Homeless Education aims to help educators and service providers understand the federally funded education programs for migrant and homeless youth, so that young people eligible for both types of services are able to get assistance.

The brief includes short explanations of the Migrant Education Program and the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program, both authorized by sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You'...

July 16, 2012

Photograph of a young woman watching television.For Kelly Miller, getting hooked on “The Vampire Diaries,” a TV show about two vampire brothers in a small Virginia town, is a job hazard.

As the executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, Miller oversees Boise’s Center for Healthy Teen Relationships and the anti-dating-violence project Start Strong Idaho. To tailor their anti-dating violence messages to teens, she and her colleagues regularly (off the clock and on their own dime) go to teen-oriented movies, read young adult fiction,...

July 02, 2012

Indian Health Service logoThe Indian Health Service funds 11 regional centers across the country that treat Native youth with substance abuse problems. We spoke to Skye Bass, an IHS public health specialist, about the culturally specific approach used by the Youth Regional Treatment Centers.  

NCFY: What do the IHS-funded Youth Regional Treatment Centers offer Native youth that can’t be found in other substance abuse treatment centers?

Bass: The Indian Health Service-funded treatment centers are unique due to the fact that emphasis on American Indian and Alaska Native culture is a central component of treatment.

This emphasis is reflected in most, if not...

June 15, 2012

How welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are your facilities, handouts, reading materials and speech? A new checklist (PDF, 53KB) from the National Center for Cultural Competence, at Georgetown University, can help you  measure how LGBTQ-friendly your organization or program's staff and services are.

"Promoting Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competency: Self-Assessment Checklist for Personnel Providing Services and Supports to LGBTQ Youth and Their Families" (PDF, 53KB)

If you use the checklist, let us know how you did by posting on our...

May 30, 2012

Hawaii is known for its pristine beaches, active volcanoes, fabulous surfing, and—among reproductive health workers—its high teen pregnancy rates. Only nine states have higher teen pregnancy rates than Hawaii.

The state’s youth-serving organizations knew they had to do something to reverse the trend of teen pregnancy. They also knew anything they did had to be tailored to the Aloha State’s mix of cultures.

“Hawaii is truly a unique culture,” says Judith Clark, executive director of Hawaii Youth Services Network, the statewide coalition of youth-serving organizations. “Our population is always evolving, so we’re always adapting and willing to learn something new about each other. ”

Using federal teen pregnancy prevention grants, the network has targeted messages about health...

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