Public-academic linkages for culturally sensitive community mental health

Harriet P. Lefley, Evalina W. Bestman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This paper traces the sixteen year history of a unique community mental health center which has combined academic and service provider roles in delivery of culturally appropriate care. Initially an arm of a department of psychiatry and derived from an anthropological research project, the center model was based on seven teams serving discrete ethnic communities, with subsequent development of a network of neighborhood-based 'mini-clinics' as well as centralized aftercare facilities. The team staff-social scientists, clinicians, and paraprofessionals all of matching ethnicity to the populations served-became served-became a core of 'culture brokers' with a service, teaching, and research role at the interface of the university, medical center, and community. Subsequently the university was funded for a cross-cultural training institute for mental health professionals. Center staff extended training in culturally appropriate care to 174 mental health professionals from 97 facilities throughout the nation, as well as other spinoffs improving cultural expertise of staff in public sector agencies. Data on effectiveness of services and training are given and significant findings are discussed. The description includes the impact of historical shifts in funding, the effects of external events on community mental health center structure, and the current state of cross-cultural training and public-academic linkages in this particular program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-488
Number of pages16
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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