Presently there are a wide range of barriers cited in professional literature that Hispanics in need of mental health care experience when attempting to access and receive quality mental health services. The identified barriers can be organized into several dimensions: provider barriers, barriers in the service system, community-level barriers, barriers in the social networks of people in the community, and person-centered barriers. The most important system level barriers include lack of health insurance, language barriers, discrimination from the system and lack of information about services. Community centered barriers include the stigma of mental illness and the density of family and other support networks. Person-centered barriers include lack of recognition of mental health problems, stigma of mental illness, and a self-reliant attitude.
The National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health (NRCHMH) has garnered national recognition and attention for its efforts and contributions in planning and coordinating activities that have resulted in the development, advocacy for and creation of local, statewide and national policy recommendations/initiatives aimed at increasing availability of, access to and the provision of quality mental health care for Hispanics. In fact, the NRCHMH is frequently sought after by diverse stakeholders, such as mental health consumers, family members, community advocates, mental health providers and policy analysts, elected and appointed government officials for support and technical assistance for its innovative and creative approaches to eliminating barriers in several of the dimensions referenced earlier, including at the service system level.
Due to the important and influential role that organizational and public policy plays in shaping and driving practice, the critical need to impact changes in the service delivery system and other dimensions in order to eliminate disparities in the availability of, access to and the provision of quality mental health services for Hispanics, and the increasing demand for guidance, support and technical assistance from the NRCHMH, the organization is proud to announce the formation of the National Policy Academy on Hispanic Mental Health Issues. The National Policy Academy is a division of the NRCHMH and will specifically engage in the following activities:
1. Providing guidance, direction and hands-on technical assistance to stakeholders across the nation to assess barriers within each respective state/community and developing policy recommendations aimed at improving the delivery of culturally and linguistically competent and quality mental health services to Hispanics — initial vision of working with stakeholders from three states per calendar year. Assistance shall include activities such as:
a.Identifying leaders from diverse stakeholder groups to participate in a Mental Health Roundtable to explore barriers within local communities and statewide that impact the availability of, access to and the provision of quality mental health care to Hispanics.
b. Developing specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time oriented policy recommendations/initiatives aimed at eliminating identified barriers.
c.Coordinating a result oriented advocacy action plan aimed at garnering the awareness of, interest in and ultimately the support of key formal and informal leaders in each state. These leaders will include elected and appointed government officials, media representatives, business leaders, consumer and family advocates, and other identified power brokers. The advocacy action-oriented plan may include activities such as meetings with appointed and elected officials, holding press conference(s), testifying at public hearings, writing editorials to newspapers and raising awareness among media outlets. Additionally, all plans will ensure that all identified activities will include a roadmap for success consisting of actual steps to be taken, the person(s) responsible for carrying out specific intervention strategies, a timeline for completion of each activity, and evaluation measures for each proposed activity/intervention.
2.Creating a database of known local, state and federal initiatives and policy recommendations aimed at eliminating disparities in the availability of, access to and the provision of quality mental health care for Hispanics and ensuring the mass dissemination of such efforts to micro- and macro systems. Envisioned means for mass dissemination of information include the NRCHMH’s bilingual website (www.nrchmh.org), the NRCHMH’s quarterly bilingual newsletter, conference and other community-level presentations, and posting on diverse list-serves such as the National Latina/o Psychological Association, the National Association of Puerto Rican and Hispanic Social Workers, the National Latino Behavioral Health Association, NAMI’s Multicultural Action Center (also known as the National Alliance on Mental Illness), the National Council on Community Behavioral Health and Mental Health America.
3. Serving as a “Think Tank” that acts as a catalyst for consumers and family members as well as professional leaders to develop new policy options and to distribute information on provider “Best Practices” to improve mental health service access and improve the provision of quality mental health care to Hispanics and the treatment outcomes.
Below is a listing of known policy recommendation reports aimed at eliminating disparities in the availability of, access to and the provision of quality mental health services for Hispanics (please click of the Report Name to access a report):
- Time for Action: Improving Mental Health Services for the Latino Community, Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Mental Health Institute, Inc. (2005)
- Latino Mental Health – One Year Later: Creeping Towards Progress, Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Mental Health Institute, Inc. (2006)
- Mental Health Issues and Platform Committee Policy Report – National Hispanic-Latino and Migrant American Agenda Summit (2004)
- The Status of and Proposed Future Direction of Mental Health and Substance Abuse for Hispanics in New Jersey – Mental Health Work Group, Health Subcommittee, Governor James E. McGreevey’s Hispanic Advisory Council on Policy Development Initiatives, November 2002
- National Congress for Hispanic Mental Health Action Plan
- Closing the Mental Health Gap: Eliminating Disparities in Treatment for Latinos – Mattie Rhodes Center, Kansas City, Missouri
- Policy Brief on Mental Health Disparities in Colorado – The Colorado Trust
Individuals interested in adding to this list should forward a copy of the policy report and a link to webpage where the report may be found to Debra Wentz at firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Public Policy Academy on Hispanic Mental Health Issues would like to thank Wyeth Pharmaceuticals for their inaugural funding on this initiative. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has no control over the activities of the academy.