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DEI Resources for Social Workers

Written by Jack Levinson

diverse team meeting

If you are a practicing social worker, it is more than likely that you work with clients from a wide variety of backgrounds. It’s also reasonable to expect that you will work with individuals, families, and communities whose values and perspectives differ from your own.

Working across differences is part of the job of a social worker. When done with care, it can be a beautiful and empowering source of connection and affirmation.

Now more than ever, social workers understand that providing equitable space for all clients is not something that can be done with good intentions alone. Rather, it requires dedication to this principle and commitment to doing the learning needed to understand the perspectives and cultural frameworks that inform clients’ experiences.

For this reason, those in Master of Social Work programs can consider diversity, equity, and inclusion materials to be among the most important social work career resources they can find. If you have been looking to educate yourself further to become a more inclusive and welcoming social worker, this index of DEI resources will help you develop the knowledge you need to expand your practice and reach more people.

The Importance of Cultural Competence

One of the most important recent developments in the social work field has been its newfound understanding of the need for cultural competence. This is defined by the National Association of Social Workers as “the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, spiritual traditions, immigration status, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each.”

Indeed, cultural competence has become an important part of social work education, one most MSW programs now devote considerable attention to as part of standard training for future social workers. However, the education you get in your MSW program related to this topic is likely to be broad in its focus, as it is fitted into the other long roster of topics such programs cover.

For mental health social workers, cultural competence is a must, as it will make an invaluable difference in your ability to support individuals from a range of backgrounds.

Inversely, if you lack cultural competence as a mental health professional, you run the risk of contributing to experiences of bias and hostility that can cause more harm to patients than good. For this reason, it is strongly advised to do your own independent research and learning, especially if you have begun working with communities whose norms and values are unfamiliar to you. This will go a long way in improving the support you are able to provide to your clients.

DEI Resources

The following social work resources for students and practitioners are organized by category, allowing professionals who are seeking to learn more about the experiences of a specific community or demographic. These can also be valuable mental health resources for social workers themselves, especially those belonging to marginalized communities.

Please note that these social worker resources include a mix of North Carolina-specific organizations and national nonprofits and government organizations.

Those with Disabilities

Disability Equality Index 2023

This report from Disability:IN provides a detailed report outlining and benchmarking disability inclusion in the United States. It is a valuable resource for social workers who wish to get the lay of the land for the current state of disability rights to help create more equitable and accessible practices.

Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation

For those looking for educational materials specifically focused on social work practice in relation to disability, this scholarly journal is devoted to the topic, with multiple issues available online.

National Council on Disability

This independent federal agency is devoted to researching the current state of disability policy and advocating for change to make the U.S. a more equitable place for disabled individuals. Their website features educational resources for those interested in learning about disability rights at the policy level.

Rooted in Rights

This organization is devoted to changing narratives around disability and strengthening resources for disabled individuals across industries. They offer educational resources as well as participatory workshops and trainings for professionals looking to enrich their practices.


American Psychiatric Association

This primer from the APA is specifically designed for mental health professionals. It is oriented toward helping social work practitioners understand the unique mental health care needs of women and creating practices free of gender bias.

Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education

This initiative from the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) is focused on uplifting female-identifying social work practitioners and educators to create a more equal playing field in the world of social work.

NIH: Women and Mental Health

This resource from the National Institute of Mental Health provides research-driven articles about mental health issues that are unique to women as well as the current state of gendered inequality in our existing mental health support systems.

NASW: Women’s Issues

This initiative from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is focused on researching social issues that specifically impact women and leading advocacy efforts to improve and redress gender bias in the field of social work.


American Psychiatric Association: Guide for Working with Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Patients

This guide from the APA is intended to help mental health practitioners who are working with transgender and gender non-conforming patients, giving an outline of key mental health issues and what social workers can do to create a bias-free environment.

The Center for LGBTQ Evidence-based Applied Research

Run by the University of Palo Alto, CLEAR is a research institute that provides in-depth educational resources as well as training materials for mental health professionals to become more supportive to LGBTQ+ clients.

Creating Change Conference

For those who would like to build community and learn from engaged discussions with others, the annual Creating Change Conference offers the opportunity to meet like-minded people from all professions to learn about a host of topics related to LGBTQ+ experiences.

Equality North Carolina

This advocacy organization is focused on the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals within the state of North Carolina, making it an especially useful tool for mental health social workers in the state who are looking to understand the up-to-the-minute circumstances and challenges faced by queer individuals and communities.

Journal of LGBTQ+ Issues in Counseling

This scholarly journal is specifically designed for clinical social workers interested in expanding and changing their practices to better meet the needs of LGBTQ+ clients. It features research-based articles to help social workers understand the current state of issues in LGBTQ+ care.


Communities in Schools: North Carolina

For school social workers and those who work with young people, CISNC provides extensive resources to help professionals meet the needs of Black students as well as other students from marginalized demographics. These resources include regular training sessions for social workers and educators.

National Association of Black Social Workers – North Carolina Chapter

This national organization is designed to connect and empower Black social workers. Their North Carolina is intended for those within the state, facilitating easier introductions and building solidarity across professional networks.

Mental Health America

This guide from MIH is designed both to empower POC individuals seeking mental health treatment and educate mental health practitioners on how to make their services more equitable and inclusive to people of all backgrounds. It also identifies the unique mental health needs of BIPOC individuals.

National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)

NICWA is an organization that provides directed support for Native American youth, including targeted resources for mental health providers. These include fact sheets, training programs, and classes to help social work practitioners who are working with indigenous communities.

Racial Equity Institute

This is a national organization designed to help professionals in a variety of industries reform their practices to better support the needs of BIPOC individuals and to create more equitable services and professional opportunities within their respective fields.


Asian Americans Advancing Justice

This nonprofit organization provides community empowerment and legal advocacy for AAPI individuals, families, and communities. Among these offerings are educational materials that can help mental health professionals support AAPI clients and meet their unique mental health needs.

The Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA)

The AAPA is an organization designed to build solidarity AAPI mental health professionals and to illuminate AAPI mental health needs for non-AAPI practitioners. Among their offerings is the Asian American Journal of Psychology, which includes practice-oriented resources to help therapist and counselors better tend to the needs of their AAPI patients.

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations

This organization is designed to support community-based health care providers who serve AAPI individuals, with focus areas including mental health services. For case workers and those on the administrative and logistical side of social work, their offerings also include guides to help low-income clients find supportive services.

National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association

This organization compiles resources for mental health providers working with AAPI clients, including training programs, classes, and more. They also provide educational resources for advocacy efforts.

North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT)

For those who are looking for resources specific to North Carolina, NCAAT is an advocacy organization that seeks to support AAPI individuals, families, and communities in North Carolina. For social workers, it can be an illuminating resource, outlining the specific challenges AAPI individuals face in the state and the mental health needs that may arise as a result.


El Pueblo

This North Carolina-based advocacy organization is devoted to championing the unique needs of LatinX communities, in contexts including but not limited to mental health services.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Compartiendo Esperanza

This resource from NAMI provides data-driven statistics on the barriers to mental health care for LatinX individuals and families, as well as an index of additional resources for ABA counselors and other mental health professionals.

National Alliance for Hispanic Health

This organization is devoted to supporting LatinX individuals seeking mental health services, as well as providing resources to help educate mental health professionals about issues of access for LatinX communities.

Therapy for LatinX

This organization provides resources for mental health professionals to better support and understand LatinX patients. They also serve LatinX individuals and families seeking mental health support, making it an excellent resource for social workers who connect individual with the services they need.

Veterans and Active Duty


This organization helps empower veterans, active duty military members, and their families. They also provide resources to help mental health social workers address these individuals’ unique mental health needs.

National Center for PTSD

This initiative from the US Department of Veterans Affairs is designed to help mental health practitioners understand post-traumatic stress disorder, which impacts a disproportionate number of veterans and armed service members. If you work in mental health services for veterans, you are more than likely to encounter PTSD among your patients, meaning it is essential to understand how this mental health condition impacts individuals.

The North Carolina Department of Military & Veterans Affairs

This state organization provides educational resources that can help social workers understand the biggest issues affecting veterans and active duty military members so that they can provide comprehensive mental health support to those who have been in the armed forces.

North Carolina Veterans Business Association

This organization is designed to support veterans who are re-entering the workforce after deployment. They offer workshops and conferences to illuminate the specific issues veterans can face in rebuilding their lives after serving in the military, helping mental health providers understand what their veteran clients are experiencing.


CSWE: Religion and Spirituality Clearinghouse

This initiative of the Council for Social Work Education is designed specifically to enrich social workers’ understanding of the diverse religious communities in the United States to create a more informed and holistic approach to mental health services across religious and spiritual backgrounds.

The Society for Spirituality and Social Work

This organization provides a network specifically for social workers to offer spiritually sensitive practices. It is an interfaith organization that helps build bridges between people from differing belief systems to create more inclusive and culturally responsive social work practices.

Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding

This nondenominational organization is focused on creating more inclusive shared spaces for those of all religious backgrounds. Their work extends to providing professional training and education, including for mental health professionals, to become more supportive to clients of any spiritual leaning.