Blog: National Partnership for Action
Addressing a Silent Crisis in America - Disparities in Mental Health Care for Hispanics
Posted on 4/18/2012 by Henry Acosta, MA, MSW, LSW
Disparities in the availability of, access to and provision of quality mental health care for Hispanics have been well documented for over a decade now. These disparities may be playing a major role in the population's overrepresentation in many of the nation's most vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, the uninsured, the poor, and those involved in the child welfare and juvenile and adult justice systems. The National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health (NRCHMH) is proud of its many efforts to eliminate these disparities by addressing the array of barriers that exist for Latinos in accessing and receiving mental health services in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. It is also proud of its award-winning, bilingual, multimedia, public education campaigns aimed at heightening awareness, acceptance and understanding of mental illness among the Hispanic population.
The NRCHMH has developed and provided intervention strategies addressing the complex barriers that contribute to existing disparities such as policy development and analysis activities, best practice development, research, trainings, technical assistance, and anti-stigma and anti-discrimination public education campaigns. Additionally, the organization, through the Alliance for Latino Behavioral Health Workforce Development, works on addressing the nationwide lack of a multidisciplinary and diverse bilingual and bicultural mental health workforce for Latinos, and the lack of Latino leadership in the behavioral health care system.
The Alliance, which is operated under the auspices of the NRCHMH, is a strategic partnership of nearly 20 national health, behavioral health, and advocacy organizations, and other leading organizations with expertise and a commitment to behavioral health workforce development. The Alliance's primary mission is to ensure that the recommendations contained in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health's Movilizandonos por Nuestro Futuro: Strategic Development of Mental Health Workforce for Latinos Consensus Statement and Recommendation Report are widely considered and taken seriously by the wide range of stakeholders who are needed to address the disparities that exist for Latinos in the availability of, access to and provision of quality mental health services.
The most important aspect of our program is the value that we place on gathering input from the consumers and stakeholders we serve. Their feedback has been a priceless resource to our organization in developing projects that are culturally relevant and meet our population's cultural needs and preferences. We know that our organization has made a positive difference, as evidenced by consumer feedback obtained through various evaluation methods, as well as increased use of least restrictive interventions for people with disabilities and more cost effective mental health interventions in many communities as shown by state statistical utilization data. Although the organization has garnered national and international recognition and awards for its work, much more is urgently needed! Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a diverse set of leaders to make a significant difference in eliminating disparities in mental health for Hispanics, and to achieve health equity. It is critically important for our nation's continued growth and development that these diverse stakeholders from both the public and private sectors address the barriers and social determinants that are contributing to existing disparities as the nation's Hispanic population continues to grow exponentially. America can no longer afford to not appropriately address the barriers and social determinants contributing to the disparities that Hispanics face throughout the nation in mental health. Hispanics are an important group in our nation and are projected to represent nearly 30 percent of the total U.S. population by the year 2050. We cannot out-educate, out-innovate or out-build anyone without addressing the overall health and mental well-being of all Americans, especially those who represent such a significant segment of the nation's population.
To learn more about the work of the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health please visit http://www.nrchmh.org
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The NPA works to achieve health equity -- the highest level of health for all people. This blog is a venue for professionals from all fields and sectors to share their thoughts on pressing issues, news and events pertaining to health equity. Follow and participate in this candid discussion.
About the Author
Henry Acosta is the Executive Director of the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health, an outgrowth of the award-winning and nationally and internationally recognized Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics program which Mr. Acosta directed since its inception. Mr. Acosta is also the Deputy Director of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute, Inc.
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