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<p>Racial/ethnic disparities in mental health in the U.S. have been widely studied in the past two decades. Culturally-competent mental health services have emerged as a potential avenue to address these mental health treatment disparities. Although clinicians and researchers have made significant attempts to combat inequitable access and adequacy of mental health services, there has been minimal success. This warrants an examination of what may or may not be effective in providing culturally-tailored care. This study explores themes concerning beneficial, inert and harmful culturally tailored mental health care through a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with students (<em>n</em>=124). Results demonstrated that participants perceived helpful strategies to most commonly include: individualization of mental health treatment (56%), the notion of respect (51%), bridging barriers to language and communication (40%), contextual awareness/understanding (43%), understanding of non-verbal cues (54%), and trust/openness (31%). Additionally, participants perceived themes of inert practices to be: enhancing differences between provider and client (49%), stereotyping/overemphasizing culture (22%), resorting to cultural components that are inapplicable to everyone (23%), utilizing an authoritative style of treatment (42%), underlying issues related to stigma (56%), and applying strategies beyond the scope of the therapist (28%). Many of the inert practices discussed were also considered harmful (15%). Findings highlight the multitude of strategies that can be further studied, emphasized, improved upon, or reconsidered to properly engage racial/ethnic minority populations in high quality mental health services. Exploring non-expert offers perspectives from a “consumer standpoint” for effective engagement in mental health service delivery, and promotes the importance of shared expectations, assumptions, and understanding between the client and the provider.</p>
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