Preparing ourselves: A resource for providers

About Solution

In the United States (US), immigration from the Spanish-speaking countries to our south has brought thousands of people into new communities for reasons ranging from economic collapse to violence and natural disasters. Mental health and wellbeing among these populations is a critical issue, as cultural presentations of mental distress may mask full evaluation of suicide risk or isolation. Isolation from family and social networks is one of the barriers to resilience, preventing connections that support resources, work connections, health needs, and emotional relationships. Although the US is a large and diverse nation, access to culturally responsive healthcare and mental health support is challenging for most immigrants. For those who are not fluent in English, such services may be very limited, in large part due to the lack of education and limited competencies among existing providers. We do a poor job distinguishing between Hispanic cultures and frequently a Spanish-fluent provider from one culture is expected to provide care to individuals from cultures that may be unfamiliar. This creates unnecessary barriers to care, related purely to culture, dignity, and education.

This solution offers scalable, feasible, & substantial impact, focusing on training of the health and mental health workforce regarding issues specific to culture and immigration. We propose a website that provides a starting point for training about Hispanic cultures, issues of cultural relevance, and critical points of practice. The website, targeted to healthcare and mental health providers, will provide reference summaries of best practices and known challenges in working across cultures, language and working with interpreters, context, culture, and diversity of countries in the Spanish-speaking world (e.g. Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, etc.), important things to remember when patients have experienced forced migration or natural disaster, major diagnostics and culturally responsive care, and reference links to organizations that provide assistance for further training or education. The website will emphasize the critical importance of recognizing, rebuilding, and strengthening social networks and empowering the resilience of families and communities, and will highlight the heterogeneity of persons who arrive at our doors for assistance. Aligned with Social Development Goals 3, 10, and 16, the site will be in English and Spanish, and will contain information from research and experts in the field, with short videos from consumers and experts on the pages to emphasize important areas of practice knowledge.



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