Blacks and Latinos with mental health or substance abuse problems are half as likely as whites to receive professional help, reported University of California, Berkeley, psychology professor Lonnie Snowden, PhD, during a panel discussion at APA's 2004 Annual Convention in Honolulu. Reducing this access disparity, he said, depends on increased numbers of psychologists, particularly in areas with large ethnic-minority populations.
"The biggest predictor of mental health disparities is the number of health practitioners per capita," said Snowden at the session, which was co-sponsored by APA's Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice and its Task Force on Serious Mental Illness. "We need more psychologists out there, doing outreach."
Ethnic-minority outreach programs specifically need bilingual mental health professionals or at least readily available translation services, noted another panelist, Candace M. Fleming, PhD, associate professor and training director for the American Indian and Alaska Native Programs at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
"Translators can make a big difference in bringing these populations in for services," she said.
Also speaking on the panel were Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, deputy commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, who chaired the session, as well as Larke Nahme Huang, PhD, senior policy associate at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, and Mario Hernandez, PhD, an associate psychology professor at the University of South Florida.
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