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Released by: Health Services
For Immediate Release

Behavioral Health Division’s Community Partners Featured at Statewide Cultural Competence Summit

Santa Rosa, CA  –  March 14, 2017  –  On March 15 and 16, 2017, two community partners contracting with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services Behavioral Health Division will be presenting at a statewide behavioral health summit. Behavioral Health Division staff assisted our partners, Latino Service Providers and the Sonoma County Indian Health Project, in applying for the Cultural Competence Summit XX as presenters. This Summit will focus on highlighting Community Defined Practices used by disparate communities to reduce stigma to increase access to mental health services and treatment throughout California counties. 

The conference, organized by the California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions and hosted this year by Sonoma County, will also have keynote addresses given by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island and Kevin Berthia. The Behavioral Health Division secured both Congressman Kennedy’s and Kevin Berthia’s attendance at the conference. Upon Kennedy’s retirement from Congress, he founded the Kennedy Forum, which unites the community of mental health, and co-founded One Mind for Research, a global leader in open science collaboration in brain research. Berthia will share his journey of hope and recovery as a suicide survivor. In 2005, Berthia plotted to take his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge but it was a first responder’s listening ear that eventually brought Kevin to the safe side of the railing.

Latino Service Providers and the Sonoma County Indian Health Project, Inc. are both funded by the state’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), which is administered locally by the County’s Behavioral Health Division. Each contractor recently received over a million dollars from the state for their work reducing disparities for those seeking mental health services and bolstering the local mental health workforce, with a focus on the Latino and California Native American community here in Sonoma County. 

“Sonoma County’s ongoing commitment to serve disparate communities benefits our entire population. We are thrilled to have Congressman Kennedy attend this conference and have two of our valued community partners highlighted during the event. We must remain vigilant in engaging and supporting underserved areas of our county. The state’s financial backing for our initiatives underscores how successful our collaborative efforts are,” Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Shirlee Zane stated.

Latino Service Providers received funding last year from the California Department of Public Health totaling $1.18 million over five years. This funding will aid Latino Service Providers in recruiting and training mental health promotores. These promotores are launching a community-wide bilingual and Spanish-speaking educational campaign to reduce stigma surrounding mental health, increase awareness of resources, and encourage workforce development in behavioral health careers. Latino Service Providers is also assisting the County in recruiting and hiring bilingual and bicultural Spanish speaking staff. 

“Latino Service Providers is honored to be selected to present at the Cultural Competence Summit XX. As we move into 2017 we are thrilled to be launching our Testimonios program, utilizing Youth Promotores to deliver mental health messaging, aiming to reduce stigma and disparities in the Latino community. In our presentation, ‘Growing a bilingual workforce’ and ‘How to connect with la Gente Latin@’ we will share best practices and strategies for Community Engagement, Collaboration, and Capacity Building implemented and refined over the last 27 years to bridge services to the people that need them and most recently implementing a mental health career exploration symposium and efforts to increase a bilingual mental health workforce,” stated Wanda Tapia, Executive Director, Latino Service Providers. 

Sonoma County Indian Health Project, Inc. received $1.14 million from the California Department of Public Health as part of the state’s Phase II of the California Reducing Disparities Project. Sonoma County Indian Health Project’s Aunties and Uncles Program, a Community Defined Evidence Practice, will provide a community-level suicide prevention and mental health Stigma and discrimination reduction with its implementation of the Sonoma County funded model.

“This funding provides critical resources for the Sonoma County Indian Health Project, Inc. and local Sonoma County California Native American tribal communities to implement the Aunties and Uncles Program CDEP in four tribal communities that have experience high rates of health disparity. The Aunties and Uncles Program will develop meaningful and collaborative partnerships with tribal communities and include natural cultural resources in developing culturally appropriate and culturally responsive community outreach and engagement, anti-stigma campaign, community-level education on suicide prevention and depression screening,” stated Nelson Jim, Behavioral Health Director, Sonoma County Indian Health Project, Inc. “The project also provides an opportunity to establish evidence of effectiveness for the healing and wellness approach/process our Native people practiced for generations, and sustained our resilience, perseverance, and hope.”

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