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Practicing cultural responsiveness is: 1) the ongoing process of learning how the values, beliefs, attitudes and traditions that grow from racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, disability status, or other affiliate groups contribute to our own and other people’s culture; 2) learning about personal circumstances, conditions, and experiences that influence our own and other people’s thinking, behaviors, and roles in their communities; 3) being mindful of the power and privilege differences and similarities between individuals and among groups of people; and 4) using this knowledge to work effectively with all people. In the context of Young Adult Peer Mentoring, using lived experience with purpose and intent to practice cultural responsiveness also means:

  • Sharing aspects of the YAPM’s own lived experience without assumptions
    about how it is the same or different from the experience of other
    young adults;
  • Specifically acknowledging and discussing how the challenges that young
    adults have faced may be similar or different from those of the YAPM;
  • Exploring ways in which different experiences in the mental health/child
    welfare system and/or other traumatic situations influence the world view,
    attitudes, and behaviors of young adults;
  • Discovering differences in views of mental health in the cultures of young
    adults’ family members and other significant figures in their lives and
    working to bridge gaps in understanding;
  • Demonstrating an understanding of “youth” culture based on young adult exposure to contemporary conditions, technology, social media, expressive language, and other cultural markers that are significantly different from the previous generation; and
  • Mutual exploration between YAPMs and YAs to identify developing cultural values and meaning as they (both YAPM and other young adults) transition to adulthood.
“In part of my work with cultural responsiveness was when I was working with a 15 year old girl who was experiencing many identity clashes. This included her cultural identity being mixed race…I worked to create a safe place for her to express herself…that it’s okay to accept these parts of herself. Another part of her identity she was having clashes with was her sexual identity and also her gender identity…Part of my work was allowing her to teach me…and that made her feel comfortable and less anxious and able to express this [gender/sexual identity] to her mom and they were able to work through it.”  - Julia Young Adult Peer Mentor