Mental Health Awareness

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Magellan of Arizona and Chicanos Por La Causa are teaming up raise awareness about mental illness and substance abuse resources available to help the Hispanic community.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
May is national mental health awareness month. Nearly 16 million Americans. That's one in four adults experience a mental health issue during a given year. According to mental health experts, fewer than one in 11 Latinos with a mental disorder contact mental health specialists. Magellan of Arizona and Chicanos Por La Causa are team can up to bring the issue of mental health awareness to Hispanics by holding town hall meetings in the community. Joining me to talk about this is the director of outpatient clinical Services for Chicanos Por La Causa, also here is Richard Clark, the chief operating officer for Magellan of Arizona. Welcome to both of you. And thank you for being here tonight.

Richard Clark:
Thank you.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
First I'm going to ask you, explain Magellan. What is Magellan of Arizona?

Richard Clark:
Magellan of Arizona is a contracted regional behavioral health care authority, and we managed the mental health and the substance abuse Service system for the public sector in Maricopa County. And that means that we administer and we provide quality oversight and we help the provider community develop and deliver Services to people with mental health and substance abuse needs.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Now, there was an independent audit conducted in January that said basically the -- that concluded that Arizona does not provide adequate health Services, mental health Services in adds to its residents in Arizona. It mentioned Magellan specifically. Can you address the findings and what Magellan has done as a result of that audit?

Richard Clark:
The court monitor's audit is part after class action lawsuit that is looking at individuals with serious mental illness and the quality of their care. That audit was delivered in January, and it painted a picture of a system that needs to have dramatic improvements. I -- in looking at that report, I really believe that there was sufficient information and data to present a significant improvement in allocators or at least 71% of the indicators in the court monitor's report to show that since 2007, when Magellan joined the community partnership to improve Services here, has actually done just that, improved Services for children, adults, and in this case, individuals with serious mental illness.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
One of the other things I wanted to follow up, some of the reports have said the state continues and should continue to improve its Services. It hasn't met those standards. My question to you is, working towards that, what have you done and does that lead into what is present, what we're here to talk about today, which is that partnership you're building with Chicanos Por La Causa?

Richard Clark:
I think there are a number of dimensions that need improvement in the system. From the involvement of individuals who have mental health issues in their treatment planning process. We've made significant improvements in that area, moving from a low of 15% of involvement, to at this point a high of 34%. We have seen wait lists in the U.P.C., the urgent care center; go down from 2½ hours with police waiting to process somebody, to 2½ minutes. That's really remarkable changes in the system. Additionally, what we are trying to do is improve access issues for many individuals in the system. And when we examine the issue of race and equity, what we discover is that while the Latino population represents 30% of the population of Maricopa County, only 5.2% of the Latino population is currently accessing mental health and behavioral health care Services.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
And that led Magellan to build this relationship with Chicanos Por La Causa. And that is the need to help -- first of all, reach out to the Latino community when it comes to mental health, because they're not getting the Service, and perhaps it isn't that they're not getting it because it's not there for them, but the other way around. They're not going out there and getting the Service. And it starts with identifying the problem. Is that correct?

Virginia Gonzalez:
That's correct. One of the things that we found in working with families who are of a Latino background is that many of them have significant barriers in terms of accessing Services. And some of those barriers include one just knowing what providers are out there or that a provider exists that can help in meeting their need. And even before that, it might just be the identification of that there is a mental illness or that there is something that maybe requires more intervention than the family can provide. And in addition to that language is always an issue with many of our families. So being able to go to a place where they feel that they can be Serviced and also that somebody understands what they're saying, because often times they call and they reach someone who may not speak their language. So --

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
So with that said, what are the first few things, or at least the first thing you've done today Rodriguez the issue of getting them to understand there's a problem, and getting that Service to them?

Richard Clark:
We've done I think a really remarkable job of partnering with Chicanos Por La Causa, who has a tremendous reputation for sensitivity and neighborhood focused Service delivery with local decisions that people trust. I believe that when -- if you're going to increase access and -- in communities of color, that you really need to become part of the neighborhoods. And you need to participate with the organizations that are really deeply rooted in those communities. We held -- we've organized a series of town hall sessions with Chicanos Por La Causa. Our first one was held on May 11th at the Carl Hayden community center, and we had Dr. Maritiza, a pediatrician, and psychiatrists, and some parents who are also part of the behavioral health system who have experienced that. And begin to just talk about the issues that the Latino community faces, how to recognize those sign and symptoms, how to Dieteman demystify and destigmatize and really give a sense to individuals that you shouldn't be ashamed of these issues. And I think Alma was a very good example. You might want to share a little bit about her, how she warms the community up to understand that, this can affect everyone and you can get some help.

Virginia Gonzalez:
We actually had within our neighborhood meetings, we had participants from our agency who spoke about their personal stories and how they felt about entering behavioral health services, what the challenges were for them, and for their children, and how through providing those services their family was able to reach at a place where they felt comfortable and where their family was able to achieve many of the goals that they had identified for themselves.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
So with these workshops, with these town hall meetings, better yet said that you're hosting throughout the community, what are you hoping happens from this point on? You've gone in there, you've told them we're here, you may have a problem, these are the signs. Explain first what mental health is. Because it isn't just one thing, and where do you go from here now that the community has been touched even by having one town hall meeting?

Richard Clark:
It's very important I think for people to understand that mental health issues affect us, one in four adults. And an equal number of children. This is a really serious issue in the Latino community, when you have suicide being the 11th leading cause of death among young people 10-24 in the United States, and in the Latino community it's the third leading cause of death among young people. That's a real tragic situation. To overcome those things you've got to reach out to people, you have to identify the signs and the symptoms, you have to allow parents to say, I'm feeling hopeless, I'm feeling depressed, I'm not sure what to do, I can't sleep. There are many symptoms that people don't associate normally with mental illness, and so what we're encouraging them to do is to go to their primary care physicians for children to go to their pediatricians to talk about their symptoms. We're encouraging them to access the crisis line numbers.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
There's a number on the screen that we have for people to see.

Richard Clark:
Yes. We are asking them to reach out to their neighborhood organizations, and we're giving them contact information regarding organizations like Chicanos Por La Causa. And basically say this is not something to be ashamed of. Everyone that has an issue needs help and support, and this is a communitywide issue, and our goal is to continue this momentum. To continue to work with organizations, to get deeply indebted into the communities to assist people in getting the help that they need. We have another series of town halls that we're going to be doing, and we hope that people will come to those and that we'll continue to grow that movement.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
If we can have people contact Chicanos Por La Causa, or that number on the screen to get more information to the locations where you are having these meetings, and the number if anything else that you can call to get help. Because this isn't just for Latino community that is happening, certainly a need that needs to be tapped into, but for others to call. Thank you so much for being here.

Virginia Gonzalez:Director, Outpatient Clinical Services, Chicanos Por La Causa;Richard Clark: Chief operating officer, Magellan of Arizona;

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