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Professor speaks on effort to bring mental health treatment to Spanish-speaking populations

Kristen B. Morales

August 15, 2018

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On top of the mounting uncertainty in day-to-day life, many Hispanics in America also carry trauma from their home country, during their immigration to the United States, or even after they’ve arrived. And when you add in the statistic that Hispanics receive mental health treatment at half the rate whites do, it compounds issues surrounding access to mental health services.

But through a bilingual counseling program started by professor Edward Delgado-Romero in the University of Georgia College of Education, the BIEN Bilingual Clinic at the Latin American Association (Athens), students in the College’s counseling program are reaching the Athens-area Hispanic population and addressing a real need.

Delgado-Romero recently spoke about this effort on a segment on Georgia Public Broadcasting. He noted that on top of addressing past trauma and current stress, a language barrier and cost also prevent people from seeking counseling. At times, a client’s child becomes the translator, so some sensitive issues are never even addressed in order to protect the children from learning about them.

After several years of working in the local Hispanic community, though, Delgado-Romero says these barriers are slowly coming down. Now in the program’s third year, students have seen more than 200 clients—up from 40 in its first year—and have a waiting list.

“Once you establish something and people feel you can be trusted, then people will come,” says Delgado-Romero, adding that the onus is on medical professionals to be sure they are connecting with a diverse population. “Part of it is an effort by all medical professionals to reach out.”

Listen to the full interview.

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