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New Initiative to Improve Mental Health Among Chicago Latinos

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Receives Grant from The Chicago Community Trust to Build Latino Mental Health Providers Network

CHICAGO, July 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Latinos, who comprise 25 percent of Chicago's population, are a high-risk group for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, according to the National Alliance for Hispanic Mental Health (NAHMH), a reality made worse by a severe shortage of existing mental health care providers who are culturally competent. To help reverse this trend is the Latino Mental Health Providers Network, a new initiative made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Center for Latino Mental Health.

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The project comes at a critical time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a high rate of suicide attempts among Latino adolescents. Meanwhile, the Surgeon General reports that fewer than 1 in 11 Latinos with mental disorders contact mental health care specialists -- a statistic that becomes 1 in 20 among Latino immigrants with mental disorders. To meet this challenge, experts estimate that there are approximately only 29 Latino mental health providers per 100,000 Latinos.

Building a pipeline for more culturally competent practitioners will be a central focus of the network. It will address a finding cited in a National Council of La Raza report that even when Latinos do access services, 70 percent never return after the first visit -- a tendency attributed to the lack of competency training targeted to the cultural and linguistic needs of this population.

"Studies have shown that therapists who participate in cultural sensitivity training provide more effective treatment to ethnic minority populations," said Dr. Hector Torres, Chicago School assistant professor and Center for Latino Mental Health coordinator. "The better the experience the Latino population has with mental health services, the more likely people in need will continue to benefit. Special thanks should go to The Chicago Community Trust for its support of this critical endeavor."

The vision for the network is to become a growing and collaborative organization, strategically focused to build cultural competence through workshops and mentorship opportunities among its members, other healthcare professionals, and community agencies. It also will address the immediate need for culturally competent care by placing Chicago School clinical counseling interns and at least 75 student volunteers in agencies that serve the Latino community. Together they will deliver more than 8,000 service hours working with clients and staff. Finally, the network will engage in public awareness, research, and outreach to coordinate and strengthen efforts of grassroots agencies with limited staff and capacity to address critical needs.

The network is the latest project to be implemented by The Chicago School's Center for Latino Mental Health. Founded in 2008, the center works to bolster understanding of and access to culturally competent mental health services to Latino communities through scholarly research, community service, and education. For more information about the center, visit

About The Chicago Community Trust:

For 94 years, The Chicago Community Trust, our region's community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2008, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $100 million to nonprofit organizations. From strengthening community schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance our region. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at

About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology:

Founded in 1979, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is the nation's leading nonprofit graduate university exclusively dedicated to the applications of psychology and related behavioral sciences. TCS is an active member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology, which has recognized The Chicago School for its distinguished service and outstanding contributions to cultural diversity and advocacy. The Chicago School's community service initiatives resulted in recognition on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service to disadvantaged youth. For more information about The Chicago School, visit Follow us on Twitter at Follow us on Facebook:

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Hector Torres, Psy.D.

    CONTACT: Matt Nehmer

SOURCE The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
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