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Professionals take a step toward giving everyone better access to mental health services

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:32pm

For Hispanics, there's hope in mental health.

The National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health recently awarded its 2007 Hispanic Higher Education Scholarship Fund to three recipients.

They are: Ligia S. Carvalho and Luis R. Moncion, who are attending Kean University in New Jersey; and Rebecca Noreen Badillo, who is attending Rutgers University.

These individuals earned $2,000 scholarships each toward their educational pursuit of a master’s degree in social work.

The recipients successfully navigated the organization's competitive application process and meeting eligibility, which includes having a bilingual and Hispanic background and bilingual and having a baccalaureate degree.

The resource center created the scholarship fund in 2002 in response to the lack of qualified bilingual and bicultural clinicians available to meet the mental health needs of the growing Hispanic community, organizers say.

Funds have been raised throughout the year through direct mail campaigns, award galas and grant solicitations. To date, the resource center has assisted 20 individuals of Hispanic background with scholarship awards ranging from $500 to $2,000.

Organizers say it's also begun making a difference in increasing the number of bilingual and bicultural clinicians available to effectively serve Hispanics in need of critically important mental health services.

“By providing treatment in a language that many Hispanics feel comfortable speaking, Hispanic consumers who have depression or other mental illness are not dissuaded from seeking treatment," said Debra Wentz, member for the resource center's National Board of Advisors. "This helps them to achieve recovery and, therefore, strive toward their personal goals and enhance their quality of life,”

Studies have shown that Hispanics are more likely to remain in treatment and experience greater satisfaction when under the care of a Hispanic mental health care professional because of the common ties of culture and language, organizers say.

“The Hispanic Higher Education Scholarship Fund assists Hispanics in overcoming the financial barriers that keep them from pursuing a graduate school education. The NRCHMH has received an ever-growing number of requests for support since the fund’s inception. Any contribution is greatly welcomed and appreciated,” said Henry Acosta, executive director of the NRCHMH.

Individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the scholarship fund or in learning more about the NRCHMH may contact Acosta at (609) 838-5488, ext. 205, or visit www.nrchmh.org.

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