Overview of Project Activities and Accomplishments

Since October 2001, the New Jersey Mental Health Institute, Inc. has been spearheading efforts to address the nationwide lack of availability of, access to and the provision of quality mental health services for Hispanics; first through its award-winning and nationally and internationally recognized Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanicsprogram, and now through the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health. The organization has engaged in numerous activities aimed at attaining these critical goals and has received national and international recognition for its work and contributions. All program activities have supported the organization’s mission to promote quality mental health services through policy development initiatives, training, technical assistance, research, data collection, best practice development, and anti-stigma and anti-discrimination campaigns, and have contributed to the National Center’s creation and expansion.

The center’s project activities and accomplishments include:

  • Developed the concept for and contributed to the development of Comprehensive In-Depth Literature Review and Analysis of Hispanic Mental Health Issues with Specific Focus on Members of the Following Ethnic Groups: Cubans, Dominicans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Available in both English and Spanish, the report has been requested and disseminated nationally and internationally. A free copy of the report can be obtained by clicking here and clicking on Literature Review and Analysis in the desired language. A slightly edited version of this report was included as a chapter in a book on Hispanic mental health in 2005 titled, Mental Health Care for New Hispanic Immigrants: Innovative Approaches in Contemporary Clinical Practice, and in the Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Services, Volume 3, Numbers 1/2, 2005.
  • Developed and carried out a research plan to assess barriers facing Hispanics in accessing and receiving quality mental health services. The plan included developing surveys and conducting interviews with mental health agency administrators, direct service providers, and community leaders. The research plan also included conducting focus groups throughout the State of New Jersey in collaboration with Peter J. Guarnaccia, Ph.D. of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University and Igda E. Martinez, Psy.D. at Rutgers University.
  • Developed a report titled Model Mental Health Program for Hispanics that contains recommended steps mental health agencies can implement to better attract and retain Hispanics in mental health services. The material contained in the report was developed based on research activities carried out by the NJMHI and has been disseminated nationally. The report incorporates best practices that reflect the needs and cultural preferences of Hispanics, and aims to provide guidance to mental health agency administrators and direct service providers on how to best attract, retain and serve Hispanics in mental health programs.
  • Developed a 30-minute training video based on the Model Mental Health Program for Hispanics report titled, Salud Mental: Crossing the Cultural Divide within Mental Healthcare. The training video has been marketed nationally and has been very well received to date. In fact, the training video has been ordered by individuals from more than 20 states and orders continue to be handled on a regular basis. The training video is geared to educating mental health agency administrators and direct service providers on how to best attract, retain and serve Hispanics in mental health services. To order a copy of the training video, please click on resources.
  • Conducted over 200 presentations at local, state, national and international conferences, community meetings, and other venues aimed at sharing project activities and findings, increasing interest and awareness of mental health issues impacting the Hispanic community, and educating stakeholders about the issues and needs of Hispanics with regard to accessing and receiving quality mental health services. These presentations have allowed the NJMHI to not only achieve its overall program goals, but also to expand its knowledge of Hispanic mental health issues, network with leading experts in the field, create a visible and credible presence within New Jersey and nationally, and emphasize the connection between physical and mental health to state and federal leaders and to educate them so that they understand that mental illness does not discriminate!
  • Planned, coordinated and hosted two free full-day conferences. Each conference was made available to 300 professionals from all across New Jersey and focused on enhancing participant’s knowledge on how to best deliver culturally competent mental health services to African Americans, Arab Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics. The conferences consisted of 16 workshops and a plenary session by nationally renowned expert on culturally competent mental health services, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Planned, coordinated and hosted two free full-day conferences. Each conference was made available to 300 professionals from all across New Jersey and focused on enhancing participant’s knowledge on how to best delivery culturally competent mental health services to African Americans, Arab Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics, and to individuals from the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender communities. Each conference consisted of eight workshops offered twice. Additionally, each conference featured one plenary session by nationally renowned experts on culturally competent mental health services, Altha J. Stewart, M.D and Peter J. Guarnaccia, Ph.D., respectively.
  • Conducted training and/or informational sessions at over 100 local, state, national and international events on an array of topics related to Hispanic mental health. These include: the First National Conference on Child Health and Child Welfare sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 2004, the second and third National Leadership Summit on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services in January 2006 and February 2009 respectively, the 2004 Council of Social Work Examiners Annual Meeting and Conference, the First, Second and Third National Latina/o Psychological Association National Conferences in 2004, 2006 and 2008 respectively, the 2003 NAMI National Convention, the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 Latino Behavioral Health Institute Annual Conferences in Los Angeles, California, the 2005 and 2007 National Association of Puerto Rican/Hispanic Social Workers’ Annual Conference, Mental Health America’s 2007 Annual Conference and 2008 Fall Policy Conference, the 2007 National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Annual Conference, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 2008 Annual Convention as a panel member on Congresswoman Grace Napolitano’s Mental Health Summit in Washington, DC, and the 2007 National Symposium on Health Disparities in Male Depression.
  • Upon invitation, presented at six international conferences on the Changing Mindsprogram and/or on Hispanic mental health issues: 2005 World Congress for Mental Health in Cairo, Egypt, the Inter-American Society of Psychologist Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina in June 2005, the 6th Annual International Conference on Social Sciences in Honolulu, Hawaii in June 2007, the first international conference of the World Federation for Mental Health’s Transcultural Center for Mental Health in October 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the 6th Annual International Conference on Urban Public Health in October 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland, and Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation’s International Conference on Psychiatric Rehabilitation in April 2008 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Upon invitation, scheduled to present at two international venues on Hispanic mental health issues in 2009: the Inter-American Society of Psychologist Congress in Gautemela City, Gautemela in June 2009, and the 2009 World Congress of Mental Health in Athens, Greece.
  • Upon invitation, served as the Keynote Speaker or Featured Speaker at several regional or statewide events: the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Empowerment and Advocacy division, 1st Mental Health Advocacy Conference in Los Angeles, California, (2008), the Multicultural Advisory Committee of Suffolk County Annual Fall Conference in Melville, New York (2008), the Community Care Behavioral Health’s Summit on Latino Mental Health in Berks County Pennsylvania (2008), the New Jersey Association of Multicultural Counseling Annual Conference (2007), the Coalition of Mental Health Consumer Organizations Annual Conference in New Jersey (2007), the Skip Hinchman Memorial Regional Conference in Long Beach, California (2007), the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Office of Minority Health Annual Conference on Eliminating Health Disparities in Long Island, New York (2007), and the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Annual Conference (2006).
  • Provided educational awareness and issue leadership to appointed and elected officials, which led to participation in former New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey’s Hispanic Advisory Council on Policy Development Initiatives Health Subcommittee. As a result of leadership in the area, obtained subsequent appointments to co-chair the Health Subcommittee and chair the Mental Health Work Group. The Work Group and Subcommittee played a key role in the recommendations made to Governor McGreevey on improving the mental health service delivery system for Hispanics in New Jersey.
  • Appointed by former New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey to the New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners. Elected Vice-Chairman of the aforementioned Board in fall 2007.
  • Appointed by former New Jersey Acting Governor Richard J. Codey to the Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma.
  • Appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine to the New Jersey Access to Healthcare Issues Study Commission.
  • Upon invitation, served on the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations’ Planning Group and the Organizing Committee for the National Network for the Elimination of Disparities in Behavioral Health.
  • Upon invitation, served on New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health Services’ Consumer Output and Outcomes Sub-Committee.
  • Upon invitation, served on New Jersey’s Department of Human Services Hispanic Advisory Task Force.
  • Upon invitation, will serve on New Jersey’s Department of Human Services and Department of Children and Family Services Hispanic Advisory Task Force.
  • Upon invitation, serving on Advisory Group for a national public education campaign focusing on youth and depression.
  • Collaborated with the Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey to host a two-day roundtable in 2005 on Hispanic mental health issues and developed a policy recommendation report distributed to former Acting Governor Richard J. Codey and other appointed and elected New Jersey public officials. Many of the recommendations have been implemented and are working to improve New Jersey’s mental health service delivery system for Hispanics.
  • Collaborated with the Hispanic Directors of New Jersey to host a full-day follow-up roundtable on Hispanic mental health issues in 2006 to assess the state’s efforts to implement the recommendations from the previous roundtable and to develop new policy recommendations for sharing with New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine, and appointed and elected officials.
  • Actively participated in relevant associations and organizations, such as the Association of Hispanic Health Care Executives, the National Latino Behavioral Health Association, the National Association of Puerto Rican and Hispanic Social Workers, and the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry, and subscribed to numerous daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly publications that include updates on issues, such as minority mental health work, legislation updates, and scholarship programs for Hispanics. These memberships and subscriptions enhance knowledge of Hispanic mental health issues and serve as key disseminators of information to local leaders and stakeholders.
  • Provided over 150 trainings in the area of organizational or direct service cultural competency to more than 20,000 human service and mental health organizational leaders and clinicians throughout New Jersey and the nation.
  • Secured federal and private support to establish seven NAMI Family-to-Family programs in Spanish in New Jersey. Activities included coordinating the initial introduction and implementation of the program within targeted communities, and working jointly with NAMI NEW JERSEY to ensure the program’s success and adherence to its evidenced-based standards. The program is geared to family members who have a loved one with a mental illness and aims to reduce the stress and burden often associated with having a relative with a mental illness by helping family members understand mental illnesses and strengthening their communication and coping skills.
  • Served as an expert on Hispanic mental health issues to radio, television, and print media. Coverage has included television appearances on Univision 41 and Univision’s national program Enterate: Salud es Vida , on New Jersey Network’s Images/Images and on HITN-TV’s (Hispanic Information ad Telecommunications Network) Dialogo de Costa a Costa. Print coverage has included Behavioral Health Care Tomorrow, the American Psychological Association’s Monitor, El Bolentín, a publication of the National Latina/o Psychological Association, Psychiatric Times, NAMI National’s Advocate, Mental Health News, Mental Health Weekly, Salud Mental, and the Star Ledger.
  • Identified need and secured the necessary funds to create and disseminate a Directory of Multicultural Resource Agencies in New Jersey that provide mental health services to individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups.
  • Identified need and secured the necessary funds to implement a bilingual (English and Spanish) tri-state (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) television and print public education campaign for Hispanics aimed at heightening awareness, acceptance and understanding of mental illness. This campaign has gained more than $7 million dollars worth of free air time within the tri-state area and has contributed to Hispanics seeking appropriate mental health care services as needed.
  • Established the Hispanic Higher Education Scholarship Fund as a means to address the lack of available qualified, bilingual, and bicultural Hispanics to meet the growing demands for mental health services by Hispanics, especially those with limited English proficiency. The Hispanic Higher Education Scholarship Fund is specifically targeted to Hispanic individuals with a baccalaureate degree who are bilingual and are interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work from a New Jersey university. To date, the project has secured more than $70,000 in contributions for the scholarship fund since its inception in 2002, and it continues to support the educational goals of Hispanics interested in entering the mental health field as Social Workers. As of the end of 2008, 25 bilingual individuals of Hispanic background have been awarded scholarships toward their graduate education in support of our nation’s Hispanic community in need of culturally and linguistically competent mental health care.
  • Published a case study report on the Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics project in a joint publication by the World Health Organization and the World Federation for Mental Health titled, Mental Health Promotion, Case Studies from Countries. This joint publication was released at the World Conference on Mental Health in Auckard, New Zealand in 2004.
  • Created a nationwide quarterly bilingual newsletter, Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics. The newsletter was created as an avenue to share project activities and findings, to increase interest and awareness of mental health issues impacting the Hispanic community, and to educate stakeholders of the issues and needs of Hispanics with regards to accessing and receiving quality mental health services. The newsletter is sent to nearly 2,500 recipients from across the nation in print format and has the potential of reaching more than 85,000 individuals in electronic format throughout the nation.
  • Planned and hosted a Summit on Improving Mental Health Services for Hispanics. The summit was designed to share project findings and the model/framework with mental health professionals who have experience working with Hispanics in a mental health setting prior to the distribution of the model/framework; and obtain feedback, support and consensus from mental health providers who have years of professional experience working with Hispanics in mental health programs that the model/framework captures key elements of successful mental health service programming for Hispanics.
  • Secured a sub-contractual relationship over a three-year period with Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation on a study focusing on Hispanic mental health. The research study is currently in its second year of operation.
  • Served as Co-Sponsor of the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry’s Annual Conference which consisted of a Congressional Briefing on Hispanic mental health on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 6, 2008. Other Co-Sponsors included Mental Health America and the National Hispanic Medical Association.
  • Served as Co-sponsor with Boston University Psychiatric Rehabilitation on an international conference on psychiatric rehabilitation held in April 2008 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Served as Co-sponsor with the National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide on a national conference on suicide prevention and intervention held in February 2008 in Los Angeles, California.
  • Providing support and assistance with the development and implementation of a national public education campaign and public service announcement on Latino men and depression for a national campaign entitled Men Get Depression.
  • Honored in 2008 by: the National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide, Eli Lilly and Company with a Welcome Back Award in combating stigma (2008 Destigmatization Award Recipient), MDAdvantage with an Edward J. Ill Excellence in Medicine Award for Community Service, New Jersey Network’s Images/Imagenes, NJ BIZ with a HealthCare Heroes Award in Education – Individual Category, and the National Latina/o Psychological Association.
  • Honored in 2007 by: American Psychiatric Foundation with a 2007 Award for Advancing Minority Mental Health at the national level, NJBIZ with a “40 Under 40” Award, Family Service Bureau for “Excellence in Mental Health Advocacy for Hispanics”, and inducted into the Latino Behavioral Health Institute Honor Roll for national leadership in organization efforts to understand and eliminate barriers for Hispanics in need of mental health care.
  • Honored by the New York Latino Social Work Task Force with a 2006 Leadership Award in Social Work. Also honored in 2006 with a Certificate of Recognition by the American Psychiatric Foundation in 2006 for work promoting mental health among minority populations.
  • Honored by the National Association of Puerto Rican/Hispanic Social Workers with the 2004 Leadership Award in Social Work and by Save Latin America, Inc. in 2004 with a Tres Proceres Antillanos Award for Advocacy and Leadership in Latino Mental Health.
  • Developed fact sheets and press releases in both English and Spanish on Hispanic mental health issues and project activities that have resulted in numerous radio, television and print coverage. These activities have allowed Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics project staff to share project activities and findings, to increase interest and awareness of mental health issues among Hispanics, to educate stakeholders of the issues and needs of Hispanics with regard to accessing quality mental health services, and to heighten awareness, acceptance and understanding of mental health illness among the Hispanic population.
  • Developed an educational awareness brochure in English and in Spanish on mental health issues that includes facts on depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. The brochures were distributed to select communities in New Jersey with a high concentration of Hispanics through community-based organizations, religious organizations, and other community locations.
  • Participated in community activities, such as health fairs, parent meetings and educational forums in New Jersey to educate the community on mental health issues. These activities have allowed the organization to obtain visibility within Hispanic communities, secure credibility for its work, and build trust and respect from community residents and leaders alike.

Participating in all of the above activities has provided the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health with a better understanding of the issues that Hispanics face with respect to accessing and receiving quality mental health services. The National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health encourages individuals interested in making a difference in this area to work collectively to design strategies that address the complexity of the problems at various levels, such as community, individual, and the regulatory systems levels. We hope this introduction to the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health has been helpful and welcome you to join us as we strive to eliminate existing disparities in access to and the provision of quality mental health services for Hispanics.

None of the project activities listed above could have been possible without the generous financial or collaborative support of various organizations and institutions. They are: Eli Lilly and Company Foundation; Eli Lilly and Company; the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Johnson & Johnson, Janssen, L.P., the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Region II Office of Minority Health; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Princeton Financial Systems/State Street Foundation; Nordstrom, Inc.; Pfizer, Inc., Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; AstraZeneca; Schering-Plough; the State of New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health Services; the Foundation of the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development; Goya Foods, Inc.; El Especial Newspaper; Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G); NAMI NEW JERSEY; Verizon New Jersey; HandPack, Inc.; Univision 41; AARP New Jersey; and our many individual and organizational community stakeholders who have dedicated their time and efforts to support our various project activities. Thank you!!