Expanding behavioral health resources for providers in the Latino community

With behavioral health issues, it’s not always easy to ask for help. Even making an appointment to see someone can be a huge step. Unfortunately, for those in underserved communities, accessing this help can be more difficult.

In a recent study, 8.9 million Hispanic adults were diagnosed with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder, yet only 34% receive treatment every year, compared to the national average of 45%. This disparity can be explained by many factors, including a lack of cultural competency from providers, a lack of bilingual providers, and stigma about receiving treatment in the first place.

To help address these disparities in New Mexico, UnitedHealthcare is providing a $98,000 grant to the National Latino Behavioral Health Association (NLBHA) for four trainings for interpreters, and two eight-week youth cohort groups focused on substance use prevention.

“The National Latino Behavior Health Association in New Mexico is shining a light on the mental health challenges faced by minority populations and rural Americans,” said Drew Peterson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State of New Mexico. “The organization fills a vital need in New Mexico, expanding access to care and offering resources to address those challenges. We are pleased to collaborate with the Association and feel privileged to have the opportunity to work together on solutions.”

NLBHA's goal is to raise awareness to the disparities that exist within funding, access and quality of care for Latino communities needing professional mental health and substance abuse services. Shortages exist for all behavioral health workers, but especially those who are bilingual or come from diverse backgrounds. The NLBHA hopes to close that gap in diverse Latino communities.

"Resourcing new communities by directly supporting prevention services and the state's behavioral health workforce are excellent strategies in building capacity of the behavioral health system in New Mexico,” said Fredrick Sandoval, executive director, National Latino Behavioral Health Association. “With the funding received from UnitedHealthcare, we are able to enhance current evidence-based prevention programs to help reduce the onset of substance use and other stressors among New Mexico youth.”

It’s also important to understand that all of these factors are tied together. When providers are able to increase access to bilingual services, it can create a climate where people are less likely to opt out of care because of stigma or frustration.

“What a fortuitous collaboration,” Fredrick said. “UnitedHealthcare’s efforts to find us, speak to us and learn about our needs and issues, directly ties to issues of language access, evidence-based practices and stigma. When you invest into these approaches that we are employing, it’s a way of showing an impact.”

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