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Closing the Gap Around Latinx Mental Health

A major goal in MHA’s strategic plan is the align programs and services community needs. According to the latest census data, 13.8% of the population in Mecklenburg County is Latinx/Hispanic, and in Cabarrus County, the total is 11.1%. In the U.S., 18.3% of the population is estimated to be Latinx or Hispanic and of those, more than 16% have reported having a mental illness in the past year. Statistics indicate that only 34% of the population with a mental illness receive treatment compared with others. MHA has launched an initiative to address barriers to mental health care in the Latinx community. These barriers include language, poverty and less health insurance coverage, lack of cultural competence, legal status and stigma.


In February, MHA hired Tatiana Leon as its bilingual mental health educator and has hopes expand our capacity further by hiring a bilingual Family Partner in the near future. The current focus of the Latinx outreach is mental health education, including QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention, Mental Health First Aid and Café y Conversacion (Coffee & Conversation).

 

In order to meet the demands of the community, MHA is bringing on several bilingual instructors on a contractual basis. These include QPR Instructors Fabbiana Gutierrez and Nichola Rios of Alianza Prevention and Substance Control Coalition; and MHFA Instructors Brian Garcia with Mecklenburg Public Health; and Chary Carabello and Kilsy Silva-Disla with Cardinal Innovations. MHA is also adding bilingual storytellers, including including Guillermo Villar of Cambio Coaching, who has been an MHA storyteller for many years, and new volunteers Jessica Aquilar and Maria Shannon.

“It’s exciting to be a part of MHA and this outreach,” said Tatiana Leon. “There are many barriers in the Latinx community to achieving optimal mental wellness and we can achieve so much as we increase our partnerships and awareness in the community.”


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