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Liz Franklin made an important discovery about mental healthcare for the Latino population in her years as school therapist at Washburn Center for Children in Hennepin County (6.9% Latino), Minn.
Speaking Spanish is good—but it’s not enough to understand Latinos’ thoughts and situations.
“You won’t get everything right if you just translate things literally,” Franklin told the MinnPost. “You have to understand the deeper meanings, and to do that takes time and a lot of communication.”
That’s why Franklin decided to help.
She created a consortium of more than 80 Spanish-speaking therapists, doctors, and other mental healthcare providers to share more about the Latino culture and the issues that this population faces.
Latinos and Mental Health
Latinos are less likely to seek mental health treatment, according to a recent Salud America! research review.
Language is often a barrier to access to care. So are cultural beliefs that impede the desire to ask for mental care to begin with, as well as fear of deportation or discrimination.
How Franklin’s Consortium Improves Latino Care
Franklin’s group is called the Hennepin County Spanish-Speaking Provider Consortium.
Since 2013, the consortium has met six times a year to discuss key issues affecting Hennepin County’s Latino community, according to the Minn Post.
What makes the consortium so dynamic is the collaboration of over “80 mental health providers from at least 15 different agencies” in Hennepin County.
They often invite guest speakers to deliver knowledge over significant Latino topics such as spirituality, cultural competency, and much more about understanding the Latino culture.
For instance, Carla Maldonado, a licensed marriage and family therapist, attended a consortium meeting.
Maldonado said a guest speaker helped her make her therapy practice more cultural relevant for her Latino patients.
“One of the therapists brought a couple of the toy dolls that he uses when he works with Spanish-speaking children…The therapist was talking about how the kids he works with really connect with the dolls because they’ve watched the cartoon so many times,” Maldonado said. “It seems like a minor adjustment to use a Spanish character from a cartoon vs. another type of doll in a therapy session, but it made sense to me.”
Franklin, who facilitates both groups, states how the group has been a great resource for not only her clients but for the providers as well.
Since creation of the Consortium and Washburn group, the members’ knowledge over Latino culture has grown tremendously and they have collaboratively published the Spanish Clinical Language and Resource Guide, which was distributed to many hospitals, schools, shelters, and mental health agencies across the Twin Cities.
Get involved in your Community
To learn more about Franklin and her work, go here.
Check out Latino mental health resources here:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Compartiendo Esperanza: Speaking With Latinos About Mental Health.
Inspire people to learn more about the diversity of cultural competence in Latinos in mental healthcare and seek resources that could be beneficial for your community!