Workshop 1

Beyond Cultural Competence: The Impact of Race on the Provision of Mental Health Services

Presented by Diana Melendez, LCSW and Jordon Margolis, LCSW

Course Description

This two hour workshop provides an introduction to the analysis and principles of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s landmark “Undoing Racism” Workshop*. Through a combination of didactic presentation and interactive exercises, participants will begin to understand the profound impact systemic racism has on the lives of their clients, their work settings and our national mental health system, and come to understand the need to go beyond cultural competence to a deeper understanding of racism in order to provide truly effective services. Participants will also begin to explore the connection between racism and trauma, and the role of challenging racism in the process of healing.

*The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (, founded in 1980, is a national network of multiracial, multigenerational organizers and educators devoted to building a movement for racial justice and equity. Their work is based on the premise that racism has been consciously and systematically constructed, and that it can be “undone” if people come to understand where it comes from, how it functions and why it is perpetuated.

Learning Objectives

  • Become familiar with the guiding principles of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond as they pertain to mental health practice.
  • Realize assumptions about how the participant’s work is or is not affected by racism.
  • Recognize the connection between racisim and trauma, and the role challenging racism can play in the healing process.
  • Achieve an expanded view of culturally competent mental health practice that includes an analysis of power and oppression in the lives of clients/consumers.

Presenter Information

Diana Melendez, LCSW
Diana Melendez received her Master’s in Social Work from NYU and her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Psychology from Seton Hall University. Ms. Melendez has worked in school and mental health settings with children, adolescents and families. She has also served on numerous professional Boards and committees charged with addressing issues of diversity and social justice. As a graduate of the People’s Institute Undoing Racism and Community Organizing Workshop, Ms. Melendez is a member and organizer with the Women of Color Collective of NYC and the Antiracist Alliance, NJ. Ms. Melendez is on the faculty of the Institute for Family Services (which follows the Cultural Context Model), and is an adjunct professor in the Undergraduate Social Work Program at Seton Hall University. Her interests in working toward ensuring individual, institutional and systemic interactions with the community are framed by social justice and accountability.

Jordan Margolis, LCSW
Jordan Margolis has been a mental health consultant with The Jewish Board for Family and Children Services since 2008, where he provides behavioral health consultation to Child Protective Specialists, Supervisors and Managers, in addition to creating and presenting trainings on various behavioral health topics. With fellow organizers from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, Mr. Margolis has given presentations on eliminating structural racism to the NJ Network of Care Conference, Ithaca City School District, Columbia University, NYU, and SUNY. Utilizing his clinical degree from Hunter SSW and the Undoing Racism™ principles of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, Mr. Margolis strives to work with fellow organizers, mental health professionals, and child welfare stakeholders in order to end disproportionality in child welfare. Currently, he is working with various community groups to build vibrant antiracist networks in Queens and Staten Island.


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