About the Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence


Since 2007, our center has served as a leader in removing cultural and linguistic barriers in mental health care in New York State

The Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence is one of two research centers designated by the New York State Office of Mental Health to investigate and disseminate best practices in the delivery of culturally competent mental health services to underserved populations who are affected by cultural and linguistic barriers.

CECC Staff group photo

Our Mission

To conduct research on the cultural and linguistic competence of mental health services in order to improve the quality and availability of these services for underserved populations in New York State.

Why does New York need “cultural competence” in mental health care?

In 2005, Assemblyman Peter Rivera of the Bronx and chair of the Committee on Mental Health led an investigation into the mental health status of New Yorkers.*

The subcommittee learned that millions of New Yorkers face cultural and linguistic barriers when trying to access mental health care, particularly in urban areas.

The committee found that these barriers resulted from

  • Shortages of trained bilingual and bicultural mental health providers
  • Lack of access to care resulting from poverty or lack of insurance
  • Status as an undocumented immigrant
  • Low health literacy
  • Difficulty in navigating the fragmented health delivery system

*This study was performed by the Underserved Populations Subcommittee of the New York State Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Developmental Disabilities’ Mental Hygiene Task Force.

Our history

In January of 2007, the New York State Assembly passed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Peter Rivera in response to the 2005 study findings.

This bill directed the New York State Office of Mental Health to establish two centers of excellence in “culturally and linguistically competent” mental health services in order to provide mental health services to underserved populations affected by disparities due to cultural, linguistic and systemic barriers. Research conducted by both centers aims to support goals of the Office of Mental Health Bureau of Cultural Competence (Read more here: Mental Hygiene Law, Title B, Article 7, 7.07)

These two centers – The New York State Psychiatric Institute (our parent organization) in Manhattan and the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg – were mandated by the legislature to:

  • Enhance the availability of culturally and linguistically appropriate services in New York State
  • Produce results that could be disseminated statewide
  • Work closely with consumers of mental health services and their family members

About our funding

You can read about our funding at the Mental Health Association in New York State website and also visit the New York State Assembly website to learn more about Bill A01612.

The New York State Office of Mental Health also provides financial and technical support to our center.


Please visit our CECC Staff page to learn about the mental health care professionals at our center.