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About Us


• Mission
• History
• Defining Cultural Competence
Cultural Competence Mission:

OBH seeks to improve culturally competent behavioral health care; develop stronger links between clients and services, more accurately and effectively meet client needs and improve client outcomes through provider support, to include development of resources, trainings and technical assistance.



OBH’s Historical Commitment to Culturally Competent Behavioral Health Care


The Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) has a longstanding history of maintaining a strong focus and commitment to advancing cultural competence within the behavioral health field, with the overall goal of improving behavioral health services and treatment outcomes for all Coloradans. 


  • In 2001 the Cornerstone Cultural Competency committee formed as a part of the Cornerstone Initiative.  The committee developed an agency needs assessment and hosted a daylong workshop about “Organizational Cultural Competency.”  This group also contributed to Denver University’s qualitative study on the Cornerstone system of care.


  • In January 2001, as the former Division of Mental Health (DMH), OBH championed the Multicultural Issues committee, which later came to be known as the Multicultural Advisory Committee.  This committee was comprised of internal and external stakeholders, treatment providers and community leaders who focused on ways to define cultural competency, assess cultural competence, develop trainings, review existing resources and assess statewide efforts in mental health agencies regarding the advancement of culturally competent practices.  In March 2002 the group spearheaded the Cultural Competence Initiative and proposed they convene a panel of experts to exchange knowledge, research and ideas around cultural competence.  The initiative also sought to provide recommendations to the National Association of state Mental Health Program Directors.  With their renewed focus and redefined goals, the committee renamed itself the “Mental Health Services Cultural Competency Plan Advisory Committee.”  This group oversaw several sub-committees to include the “Consumer Involvement Outreach” subcommittee, the “Training I” subcommittee, the “State Plan Principles of cultural Competency” committee and the “Clearinghouse II” subcommittee.  The collective committees developed a cultural competency implementation plan; however, challenges arose in the form of funding deficits and the groups disbanded in March 2003.


  • In 2004 OBH developed and introduced the “Colorado Mental Health Services Cultural Competency Policy Plan” with the over-arching goal of achieving cultural competency at all organizational levels.


  • From 2005 through 2006 OBH participated in the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Cultural Competency Committee, which conducted the first cultural competency pilot survey for the Colorado Mental Health Institute-Pueblo (CMHI-P).  Using the survey’s results, OBH assisted in the development of strategies to better recognize and celebrate culture and diversity through cultural celebrations and activities at CMHI-P. 


  • In March 2005 OBH developed the Cultural Competency subcommittee, which focused on recognition and inclusion of the Hispanic culture within the behavioral health field.  This group focused on the unique treatment needs and barriers to treatment within the Hispanic community, specifically around substance abuse issues.  It also focused on culturally specific celebrations, changing demographics, trends and varying treatment needs specific to different geographical locations 


  • From July 2005 through November 2006 OBH launched a task-oriented committee, in conjunction with the Metaphysical Research society that focused on operationalizing cultural responsiveness.  They developed a set of culturally competent guiding principles and worked to establish a process of integrating culturally responsive practices in mental health work.  The committee’s work culminated in a structural guideline, a treatment providers’ reference to assess their clients’ cultural needs, develop and implement culturally sensitive and inclusive treatment plans and evaluate treatment outcomes.


  • In Sept 2008 OBH organized the Cultural Competency Workgroup, which met on a quarterly basis, to respond to the Cultural Competency 5 year plan.  The group originated as an internal workgroup but expanded by inviting external stakeholders.  The group discussed development of a training curriculum for treatment providers to increase the knowledge base and skill set of culturally competent behavioral health.


  • In 2008 and 2009 OBH re-addressed the 2004 “Colorado Mental Health Services Cultural Competency Policy Plan” and incorporated policy development, best practices, a certification plan, and consumer/community outreach planning.


  • In January 2010 OBH was asked to participate as a member of the “Latino Behavioral Health Roundtable Committee,” which eventually came to be known as the “Latino Roundtable,” hosted by OBH.  This group was primarily comprised of several external subject-matter experts and OBH employees.  Accomplishments of this group included development of a mission statement, goals, objectives, development of several regional trainings and an annual retreat. 


  • In 2010 OBH sought out Carla King and Associates, Inc. in order to undergo a Cultural Competency Plan Review.  In August 2010 OBH received a Cultural Competence Plan Review that outlined a five-year plan; which included recommendations of policy development, development of best practices, consumer outreach, training development and ways in which to provide technical assistance to consumers.


  • Also in 2010, OBH worked collaboratively with external stakeholders to develop a two-day training for the Certified Addictions Counselor training program entitled “Culturally Informed Treatment.”


  • In 2012 OBH began participating in the System of Care initiative, which included a strong focus on cultural competency.  The group developed 43 recommendations specific to improving culturally competent behavioral health services, including the recommendation to create an Office of Cultural Affairs within the state of Colorado.


  • In June 2012 OBH created and filled the position of Manager of Cultural Competency Programming.


  • In the summer of 2012 the "Latino Roundtable" reorganized as the Multicultural Behavioral Health Committee.  It most recently underwent a transformation to the "Providers for the Advancement of Cultural Competence" (PACC) Network Committee.  This committee presently serves as an open forum in which providers and the OBH can communicate about OBH activities related to cultural competency, as well as provider efforts, challenges, solutions and ideas about the current needs of their community, specific to culturally competent behavioral healthcare.


  • In October 2012 the OBH convened the Cultural Competency Advisory Council (CCAC), a group of subject matter experts and behavioral health experts with a shared primary focus area of cultural competence.  This group meets every other month and participates in policy development, workforce development and resource development and review, among other tasks.


  • In early 2014 the OBH awarded the task of developing a Behavioral Health Equity Report to the OMNI Institute, with an estimated completion time of Spring 2015.


Defining Cultural Competence

OBH has periodically reviewed and developed terms to reflect OBH’s understanding of culture, cultural competence and linguistic competence.  Presently OBH supports the conceptual frameworks/models, guiding values and principles developed by the National Center for Cultural Competence and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health.






Additionally, OBH supports the National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS).