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Mental health study focusing on Hispanics

By Jodie Synder and Susie Steckner

President Bush created the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health this year to study the country's public and private mental health services.

One focus of the commission is how to provide care that is culturally relevant to Latinos and other minority groups.

A report released on Aug. 8 through the commission concluded that such groups often have no access to mental health care or get inadequate care because counselors and medical staff don't account for cultural differences.

The commission's creation comes on the heels of a U.S. surgeon general's report that demands better mental health care for minorities.

One key to providing such care is removing language barriers.But there's a raft of other, more complex considerations, experts say:

  • Hispanics, like other minorities, tend to get their health care through primary-care doctors who may not recognize mental health symptoms.
  • Hispanics, like other minorities, don't completely trust the medical system. One study said that 28 percent of Latinos, compared with 5 percent of Whites, felt health care providers treated them badly becauseof their background.
  • Some studies indicate that as many as 44 percent of Hispanics surveyed nationwide use alternative health medicine and curandera, or folk healers.

Copyright 2002, Used with permission from The Arizona Republic.

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