National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

NAMI Education Programs Help Latino Community

By Maura Bulger, NAMI Program Coordinator

In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau determined that 16.3 percent of the nation’s population was Latino. This number has increased 43 percent since 2000 and continues to rise. Unfortunately, these rising numbers do not correlate with a rise in access to quality health care services for this population. Research done by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) outlined the disparities between the quality of health care received by whites versus the quality received by Latinos. While the study found that there have been some decreases in the disparities in the area of quality (i.e., effectiveness, patient safety, timeliness, patient/family centeredness and efficiency) access to services remains a significant problem.

In the specific area of mental health care, there are numerous barriers that limit access to services for the Latino community. Among these barriers, language is the most significant. For individuals, lacking the ability to communicate clearly what is experienced, or for providers to correctly diagnose, explain or collaborate on treatment and support decisions greatly affects use or outcomes of those services among Latinos. Cultural differences between individuals and service systems are another major inhibiting factor. The lack of cultural competence within mental health care services and a failure to address the cultural dynamics of the Latino community contributes to inadequate access. These barriers have resulted in lack of information and support and therefore a need to increase efforts of outreach and education of mental health care services within the Latino community. Making mental health services widely available in Spanish and collaborating with community members to adapt these services to the specific needs of this group can improve quality and access.

For these reasons, it is a vital objective and priority for NAMI to reach out and include Latinos in its education and support efforts. NAMI now has four signature programs for individuals living with a mental illness and their family members available in Spanish: De Familia-a-Familia, Persona-a-Persona, Conexión NAMI and En Nuestra Propria Voz. The Spanish translation of NAMI Basics is also underway and will be completed by the end of 2011. These programs help Latino individuals and families cope with mental illness, learn about mental health care and offer support along the road to recovery.

NAMI will host its first Spanish-language national training event this October in St. Louis to train teachers, mentors, facilitators and presenters in the signature programs mentioned above. This event will provide NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates with the opportunity to train new program leaders as well as expand their Spanish-language volunteer workforce to teach, mentor, present and facilitate these much-needed programs.

For more information on the training or to request an application, please email