Community and mental-health leaders from across California will participate in a daylong conference to explore effective and culturally and linguistically appropriate solutions to mental illness among the nearly 40 percent of the state's population that identifies as Latino. The first session of the event, "Sharing Knowledge, Improving Lives," was held at the UC Davis Conference Center on Thursday, Oct. 18, in Davis, Calif., to address Latino mental-health issues and recommendations from a landmark study prepared under the auspices of the California Department of Mental Health, titled Community-Defined Solutions for Latino Mental Health Care Disparities.
A second, Southern California session will be held on Thursday, Nov. 8, in San Gabriel, Calif. Online registration for the Southern California session is available by clicking here. There is no registration fee, but space is limited.
"Untreated mental-health needs are a very common problem, creating significant individual and family burdens and reducing quality of life and productivity," said lead author Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, who is director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities and director of the community engagement program at the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center. Aguilar-Gaxiola will address the participants in the Southern California session.
"We conducted this study to help guide policy and practice at the local and state levels to improve the mental health of Latinos and other underserved populations. Participants also requested that mental-health agencies demonstrate their commitment to serving Latino communities by developing programs that prove to be effective in producing positive outcomes -- from increasing access to improving retention rates -- and that guide policy and service development at the local and state levels," Aguilar-Gaxiola said.
Depression, substance and alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders are among the conditions that disproportionately affect what is by far the largest and the fastest growing ethnic minority in California. These maladies are rooted in health disparities -- such as poverty, poor housing, stigma and discrimination -- and are exacerbated by a statewide deficit of bilingual and bicultural community-based mental-health resources.
"Through this report, we have gathered and engaged community voices that have previously not been heard," said Aguilar-Gaxiola. "We are grateful to the individuals and communities that shared their time and wisdom with us. As we communicate the results of our study, our goal is to inform and help institute policies that improve access to quality mental-health care, thus improving the quality of life for Latinos and other underserved populations who struggle with untreated mental illness."
The project was funded by the Mental Health Services Act, also known as Proposition 63, which was approved by California voters in November 2004 to address un-served and underserved populations and provide culturally and linguistically competent services to prevent and treat mental illness. The strategies identified in the UC Davis report will inform state policies for improving the delivery of mental health care in the state.