LATINO MENTAL HEALTH CAMPAIGN
"You, the popular movements, are sowers of change, promoters of a process involving millions of actions, great and small, creatively intertwined like words in a poem; that is why I wanted to call you “social poets".
The Latino Mental Health Campaign is a Hispanic-led movement to create a more just mental health system. We bring together a diverse group of people to collectively address the lack of bilingual and bicultural mental health services through a communal process of listening, learning, discernment, planning and action. Join us today and learn more about how you can be a part of this movement. Our monthly meetings are open to all Hispanics and anyone else who is interested in learning more about mental health issues and how to use our people power to address them together.
Social poets "work, propose, promote and liberate. They help make possible an integral human development that goes beyond “the idea of social policies being a policy for the poor, but never with the poor and never of the poor"
"The first right of the human person, the right to life, entails a right to the means for the proper development of life, such as adequate health care."
There is a severe lack of bilingual/bicultural mental health services and resources for the Hispanic community. While Oregon's mental health workforce, in general, is already in short supply, a recent report on access to mental health care in Oregon revealed that Spanish speakers make up 10% of licensed mental health providers and Latino providers represent only 3%. As of 2016, Hispanics made up 12% of the state's population. This means that “even if a provider speaks Spanish, Latinos may still encounter cultural barriers because the community is so diverse.” If language and cultural barriers aren't enough, many in the Hispanic community are also undocumented, uninsured, and low-income; all additional factors that further push them away from getting the help they need. By centering the Hispanic community we do not mean to dismiss or ignore other groups. Mental illness affects everyone, not just Hispanics. Rather we seek to strengthen the whole community by closing the access to mental health services gap that exists between the rich and the poor. Those who are marginalized and whose rights are denied have privileged claims if society is to provide justice for all. Moreover, working to increase access to linguistically and culturally relevant services helps everyone in the long haul.
"The primary purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good."
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 88
This campaign is rooted in and guided by three key principles of Catholic Social Teaching:
When people in affected communities take leadership and work to address their own situations, their human dignity is affirmed.
All people have the right and responsibility to participate in the decisions that will affect their lives. The communities most affected by a problem have the wisdom, creativity, resources, and power to solve it.
What affects one directly affects all indirectly. Marginalized and privileged communities must work together in solidarity for the common good and well-being of all. We need everyone involved to make a lasting change. True solidarity seeks justice and peace. To permanently solve a problem, we must go beyond short, easy and simple solutions. The underlying structures or causes must be addressed through collective and organized efforts.
At the beginning of 2021, a small group of Hispanic women from St Anthony were invited to participate in the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center 8-week program known as Women's Justice Circle (WJC). The WJC process enables women to identify and address the underlying causes of the issues facing them and their communities. The issue that this particular group of women chose to focus on was mental health. From then on, they began communicating and collaborating with bilingual providers to offer monthly mental health workshops in Spanish to educate our Hispanic community about mental health and begin eliminating the stigma. Then, in July of 2022, with the help of a grant from Washington County that the parish received, St Anthony's WJC organized a one-day bilingual mental health conference. While proud of their accomplishments, they knew that this still wasn't enough. They wanted to make a bigger and more lasting impact but they knew they needed help. Therefore, in November of 2022, at MACG's 20-year anniversary, before a crowd of approximately 100 people, they officially and publically announced their intention to develop a mental health campaign. They invited all in attendance to join them in discussing and identifying gaps in the system that is preventing the Hispanic community from thriving and actions that they can take together. The first campaign planning meeting was held on December 10th and has been meeting once a month since then.