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Multicultural Mental Health Awareness: Understanding How Various Cultures View Mental Health Issues and the Importance of Cultural Competency.

NAMI-NYS frequently speaks about how the key to truly comprehending mental health issues is through understanding. Society must be aware of, and understand the specific issues that people with mental illness face, as well as the unique challenges experienced by their families and loved ones. Awareness and understanding is especially important as we as a grassroots organization reach out to help people and families from different cultures. New York State is truly a mosaic comprised of a wide range of cultures and ethnic groups. Each culture has its own traditions and beliefs and many cultures view mental health issues in extremely different ways. 

While mental illness has been historically stigmatized within the general population of the United States, in many ethnic cultures mental illness is even more misunderstood and stigmatized due to numerous factors including cultural expectations, religious beliefs and larger problems facing various communities. This is why it is essential to understand how different cultures view mental health issues; it is only through this understanding, that we, as a grassroots movement, can be most effective in extending an empathetic helping hand to all New Yorkers touched by mental illness. 

This is why NAMI-NYS is proud to offer these resources to inform you on Cultural Competence and provide multi-media information in English and Spanish on mental illness in the African American, Hispanic, LGBT, American Indian and Asian American communities.

Cultural Competence

NAMI National’s Multicultural Action Center

New York State Office of Mental Health’s Cultural Competence Resources

New York State Psychiatric Institute Center of Excellence Contains podcasts and an array of articles and reports on cultural competence

African American

NAMI National African American Community Health Fact Sheet (doc)

NAMI National African American Outreach Resource Manual (doc)

NAMI-NYS’s In Our Own Voice State trainer Lady Charmaine Day is featured on this episode of the radio show Rainbow Soul. The topic is Mental Health in the African American Community and also features author (and past NAMI-NYS Educational Conference presenter) Terrie Williams. (audio)

Community Voices African American Men Discuss Mental Health (doc)

Reginald Richardson, Ph.D, of the Family Institute at Northwestern University discusses Mental Health of Men and Boys in the African American Community (video)

Terrie Williams: Black Pain (video)

The Dawson and Denise Show focusing on Mental Illness in Black Communities (video)


NAMI National Webpage in Spanish

NAMI National’s Hispanic Mental Health Fact Sheet (doc)

NAMI National’s Mental Health Stats in Spanish (doc)

NAMI National’s list of resources in Spanish (doc)

NAMI’s De Familia a Familia 11-minute video in Spanish about the De Familia a Familia Signature Program. De Familia a Familia is offered in NYS to learn more contact Paul Klein

Information on Comunilife’s Life is Precious (La Vida Es Preciosa) program , the winner of the 2010 NAMI-NYS Multicultural Award. In English and en Español

Public Affairs Today: Ana Leon, Ph.D. discusses the importance of understanding the different Latino cultures when dealing with social work. (video)

ABC news feature on Latinas and Depression (video)

Mental Health: a guide for Latinos and their families (video)


NAMI National’s Mental Health Issues Among GLTB People (doc)

NAMI National’s Disparities in Mental Health Treatment among GLBT Populations (doc)

NAMI National’s Mental Health Risk Factors among GLBT Youth (doc)

Brooklyn’s Rainbow Heights Club, Executive Director, Christian Huygen (and past NAMI-NYS Educational Conference presenter) talks about the club and what it does. (video)

You Are Not Alone: LGBTQ Youth and Suicide from Safe Schools Coalition (video)

Brooklyn Independent Television’s feature on the Rainbow Heights Club (video)

American Indian and Alaskan Natives

NAMI National’s Mental Health Fact Sheet (doc)

NAMI National Outreach Resource Manual (doc)

Spirituality and Mental Health a Native American Perspective (doc)

Traditional Native American Practices for Substance Abuse Recovery (video)

Short video explaining the need for American Indian mental health and alcohol and drug addiction/use programs, and how a SAMHSA grant program can collaborate with private industry to produce successful innovative programs. (video)

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

NAMI National’s Asian American Facts Sheet (doc)

NAMI National’s Korean American Facts Sheet (doc)

NAMI's Multicultural Action Center produced this video on Asian Americans and mental illness (video)

This is the trailer to a 56-min documentary film "Can" which follows 37-year-old Vietnamese-American Can Truong's journey of healing from depression and bipolar disorder over a three-and-half year period (video)

The story of Amanda Wang's battle to become a boxer, overcome Borderline Personality Disorder and confront public stigma will serve as the first documentary to delve inside the reality of those living with this disorder (video)