NAMI and Latino Legislators "Break the Silence" on Mental Illness in National Forum | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Posted on August 24, 2004

Arlington, VA — NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators are holding a national forum in La Jolla, California this week for Latino state legislators to address issues involving mental illness.

U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano of California, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, will deliver the forum keynote address on Wednesday, August 25.

Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, will open final deliberations, Friday, August 27.

"The forum is an important step forward," said Maria-Jose Carrasco, director of NAMI’s Multicultural Action Center (MAC). "In the Latino community, there is still much stigma associated with mental illness, which is a tremendous barrier to treatment and recovery. But issues need to be discussed openly if we are going to develop a mental health care system that serves the community."

Other forum speakers include:

*Jose Canive, MD, Director of Psychiatry Research, New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System and Professor of Psychiatry, University of New Mexico

*Mike Fitzpatrick, NAMI National Executive Director

*Pablo Hernandez, MD, Administrator, Wyoming State Hospital

*Margaret Juarez, Board of Directors, California Medical Association

*Steven Lopez, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry & Chicano Studies, University of California at Los Angeles

*Harry Pachon, President, Tomas Rivera Policy Institute

*Rene F. Rodriguez, MD, President, Interamerican College of Physicians & Surgeons

*Fred Sandoval, Deputy Secretary, New Mexico Department of Health and NAMI National Board Member

Forum topics include:

*Latino Mental Health Overview

*Disparities in Mental Health Care

*Lack of Cultural Competence and Language Barriers

*Access to Medications, New Research, and New Benefits

*How Legislators Perceive the Health Care System

*Medicare Modernization: Impact on the States

*Importation of Drugs: Risks for Patients

*The Latino Political Agenda: Prevention, Access, Disparities, and Health Literacy

"The Latino community has President Bush’s New Freedom report as a lever for action," said Carrasco. "We have the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Culture, Race and Ethnicity. We have the Institute of Medicine’s report on Unequal Treatment. The challenge is to use them to shape government programs and policies to achieve cultural competence and inclusiveness."

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