OMH Honors Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day With A Commitment to Racial Equality in Mental Health Services

(January 14, 2022) Courtesy Matthew Canuteson, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, New York State Office of Mental Health

As we honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on the occasion of his birth, the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)  reaffirms its commitment to ensuring marginalized, underserved, and unserved populations have equal access to quality mental health care – supports and services.

One of our nation’s most influencial and inspiring leaders, Dr. King advocated for equality and human rights for African Americans and all individuals facing injustices. His unwavering commitment and approach with nonviolent and peaceful protests led to some of the nation’s most progressive legislation, including the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. OMH is committed to upholding Dr. King’s legacy and continues to increase attention and focus on promoting racial justice.

This Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, OMH is collaborating with other NY State agencies and is participating in several events including a food drive, volunteer fair, and career fair. More information about these upcoming events can be found here.

Hewing to Dr. King’s mission and advocacy, OMH continues to engage in activities that are dedicated to advancing equity and reducing disparities faced by marginalized populations, particularly people of color. Through collaboration with OMH’s Statewide Multicultural Advisory Committee, the agency acknowledges the impact racism and racial inequality has on Black and people of color’s mental health, and the quality of service these communities receive. The Nathan Kline Institute Center for Research, Culture and Structural Equity and OMH embarked on an agency-wide structural racism organizational assessment. This comprehensive assessment is intended to identify systemic and organizational policies and practices that contribute to racial inequities in New York’s mental health system.

Among its many efforts, the agency is developing and implementing an online training curriculum to adopt and support mental health  practices according to the National CLAS Standards. Additionally, modules are being formulated to reduce racial/ethnic-based bias in  clinical services delivery and provide culturally appropriate clinical services for the primary special population groups. In keeping with advancing racial equality, equity components were added to all agency Request for Proposals, licensing, and funding requirements. These measures, grounded in the National CLAS Standards, ensure that organizations are prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly diversifying their workforce, understanding the role a person’s culture plays in their healing, and providing staff training on these vital topics.

OMH acknowledges that while efforts are being made towards promoting racial justice and equity, there is still much more to be done at both the institutional and personal levels. The agency is committed to holding the mental health practice and administration in NY State accountable

On this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are encouraged to reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy.

Matthew Canuteson,
Pronouns: He, Him, His,
Diversity and Inclusion Officer, New York State Office of Mental Health
44 Holland Ave 2nd Floor, Albany, NY 12229

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