Henry Acosta is the executive director of the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health, an outgrowth of the award-winning, internationally recognized Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics program, which Mr. Acosta directed since its inception. Mr. Acosta is also the deputy director of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute Inc., an organization founded by the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies Inc. In his role as director of the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health, Mr. Acosta aims to address the nationwide lack of availability of, access to and the provision of quality mental health services for Hispanics and to heighten awareness, acceptance and understanding of mental illness among the Hispanic population. Mr. Acosta is also the Founding Chair of the Alliance for Latino Behavioral Health Workforce Development, a strategic partnership of the nation's leading Latino health, behavioral health, civil rights and advocacy organizations, as well as other organizations such as NAMI that are committed to a more diverse bilingual and bicultural and culturally competent behavioral health workforce.
Sought nationally and internationally as an expert/leader on Hispanic mental health issues and on the delivery of culturally competent mental health services, Mr. Acosta serves on the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma and various other local, state and national boards, advisory groups and task forces. For nearly six years, Mr. Acosta served on the state of New Jersey Board of Social Work Examiners, where he served as the board’s vice chairman for nearly three years. In addition, he was appointed by former New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine to the New Jersey Health Care Access Study Commission. Previously, he served as chair of former New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey’s Hispanic Advisory Council on Policy Development Initiatives’ Health Subcommittee mental health work group and as co-chair of the health subcommittee. His work on Hispanic mental health has appeared in numerous professional publications and he is a frequent speaker at local, state, national and international events regarding Hispanic mental health issues. In addition, Mr. Acosta had a column called “Point of View” focused on Hispanic mental health in the quarterly bilingual newspaper Salud Mental throughout the papers existence.
Mr. Acosta serves or has served on the board of directors of several nonprofit organizations and on several state-wide advisory committees, including the board of directors of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the Puerto Rican Family Institute (New York and New Jersey), the March of Dimes New Jersey Chapter, the March of Dimes New Jersey Chapter’s Statewide Hispanic Advisory Committee and the Central New Jersey Boy Scout Council. He also served as the chair of the National Hispanic/Latino American Agenda Summit Mental Health Issues and Platforms Committee in 2004 and as co-chair of the policy committee of the National Latino Behavioral Health Coalition.
A licensed social worker in the state of New Jersey, Mr. Acosta has more than 20 years of direct service and administrative experience working with children and families in both clinical and social service settings. He has served as a volunteer in many capacities, such as a mentor for a teenage inner city youth, as a local coordinator for the 2000 Million Mom March and as the 2004 Million Mom March tri-state captain for Spanish-speaking communities. For his work on the 2000 Million Mom March event, he received a state of New Jersey Senate Resolution recognizing his work and was invited to the White House for an event recognizing many of the individuals who helped organize the event. He was named as one of the "Top 40 under 40 Latino Leaders to Watch For" in America by Latino Leaders Magazinein 2010 and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics in America” by Hispanic Business Magazine in October 2008. Additionally he has received a nearly 100 awards for his community service and professional accomplishments, including a 2011 Ann Klein Advocacy Award, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health’s 2009 Minority Health Community Trailblazer Leader Award for the Latino community, a 2008 Eli Lilly and Company Welcome Back Award for Destigmatization, a 2008 Dr. Edward J. Ill Excellence in Medicine Award for Community Service, a 2008 NJBIZ Healthcare Hero Award for Education Efforts as an Individual, a 2007 Advancing Minority Mental Health Award from the American Psychiatric Foundation, a 2007 “Forty Under 40” Award from NJBIZ Magazine, a national leadership award in Latino Mental Health from the Latino Behavioral Health Institute, a Certificate of Recognition Award from the American Psychiatric Foundation in May 2006, a 2006 National Association of Social Workers – New York City Chapter and New York Latino Social Work Task Force Leadership Award, the National Association of Puerto Rican/Hispanic Social Workers’ Leadership Award in November 2004 and the 2004 Rookie of the Year Award from the March of Dimes North Jersey Chapter.
A certified firefighter, Mr. Acosta is a graduate of the Middlesex County Fire Academy and served as a volunteer firefighter for the Keasbey Fire Protection Company #1. He assisted for nearly a month at Ground Zero with the search and recovery efforts after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. The proud father of an 18-year old daughter, Mr. Acosta would like to represent the citizens of New Jersey in an elected office one day.
Mr. Acosta earned his B.A. in psychology from Montclair State University, his M.A. in social sciences with a concentration in psychology from William Paterson University and his M.S.W. in administration, planning and policy with children and families from Rutgers University. He is currently pursing his doctorate in social work in social policy analysis and administration at Rutgers and is anticipating completing his dissertation work in 2012.