News & Announcements

Mental Health Service Use Disparities in Low-Income, Ethnic-Minority Older Adults

Posted: May 23, 2012

Older American Mental Health Week is May 19-25. In a previous year the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force had co-sponsored a congressional briefing, to honor Older Americans Mental Health Week, on addressing health disparities among diverse older Americans. APA member Patricia A. Areán, PhD, presented results of her research demonstrating the benefits of integrating mental health in primary care to reduce health disparities among older adults while also lowering costs compared with usual care. James S. Jackson, PhD, discussed findings from his research showing complex patterns of physical and mental health outcomes over the life-course related to race, ethnicity, nativity, gender, and cultural differences. Areán and Jackson were joined on the panel by Laurie M. Young, PhD, of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who discussed health disparities in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders. Areán and Jackson also met with key Senate offices to discuss recommendations for reducing disparities among our nation's elders.

Read more on the APA website. Read more on Mental Health America's website.

View Dr. Areán's presentation (pdf). View Dr. Jackson's presentation (pdf)

Trained Interpreters for Patients with Limited English can Help Avoid Medical Mishaps

Posted: May 22, 2012

A visit to the emergency department or a physician's office can be confusing and even frightening when you're trying to digest complicated medical information, perhaps while you're feeling pain or discomfort. For the 25 million people in the United States with limited English proficiency, the potential for medical mishaps is multiplied. A trained medical interpreter can make all the difference. Too often, however, interpreter services at hospitals and other medical settings are inadequate. Family members, including children, often step in, or the task falls to medical staff members who speak the required language with varying degrees of fluency.

According to a study published in March, such ad hoc interpreters make nearly twice as many potentially clinically significant interpreting errors as do trained interpreters. The study examined 57 interactions at two large pediatric emergency departments in Massachusetts. These encounters involved patients who spoke Spanish at home and had limited proficiency in English. The study titled Errors of Medical Interpretation and Their Potential Clinical Consequences: A Comparison of Professional Versus Ad Hoc Versus No Interpreters, was published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Researchers analyzed audiotapes of the visits, looking for five types of errors, including word omissions, additions and substitutions as well as editorial comments and instances of false fluency (making up a term, such as calling an ear an "ear-o" instead of an "oreja"). They recorded 1,884 errors, of which 18 percent had potential clinical consequences. For professionally trained interpreters with at least 100 hours of training, the proportion of errors with potential clinical significance was 2 percent. For professional interpreters with less training, the figure was 12 percent. Ad hoc interpreter errors were potentially clinically significant in nearly twice as many instances -- 22 percent. The figure was actually slightly lower -- 20 percent -- for people with no interpreter at all.

Read more on the Kaiser Health News website. Read the abstract of the study.

Factsheet, Discrimination Survey: LGBT Populations in the National Healthcare Disparities Report

Posted: May 21, 2012

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals (LGBT) experience differences in receipt of health care services and are sometimes denied services. This fact sheet summarizes key findings from the National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR) related to health care for the LGBT population.

Key Findings

  • Transgender people are more likely to be uninsured and less likely to have employer-based health insurance than the general population.
  • Half of transgender people postponed care when sick or injured and postponed preventive health care due to cost. Among uninsured transgender people, 88% postponed care due to cost.
  • About 30% of transgender people postponed care when sick or injured and postponed preventive health care due to discrimination and disrespect by providers. Female-to-male transgender people were most likely to postpone care due to discrimination.
  • One in five transgender people has been denied services by a doctor or other provider due to their gender. Racial and ethnic minority transgender people are more likely to be denied services.


Download the factsheet (pdf).

National Prevention Week is May 20 - 26: Participant Toolkit

Posted: May 20, 2012

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a National Prevention Week Participant Toolkit. The toolkit equips communities with information and resources for planning an event to help prevent substance abuse and promote mental, emotional, and behavioral wellness. Includes event ideas, budgeting tips, fact sheets, promotional tools, and additional resources. The toolkit is tailored for family & advocates, public officials, prevention professionals, community coalitions, non-profits and faith-based organizations, and educators.

National Prevention Week is May 20 -- 26, 2012. The theme for this year’s celebration is – We are the ones. How are you taking action? – gets at the heart of what we know works in preventing substance abuse and promoting mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being. Prevention and promotion involve many small, everyday actions – such as volunteering, participating in community organizations, and talking to your kids and neighbors – which together add up to healthier and more vibrant communities. This year we are asking everyone – health service providers, addiction and mental health experts, community-based organizations, youth-serving organizations, community leaders, faith-based organizations, school leadership, and others – to reflect on these actions and to answer questions as individuals and as a community:

  • What are you doing to prevent substance abuse and promote emotional well-being?
  • What can your community do?
  • How will you make it a reality?

In the National Prevention Week 2012 Toolkit, you will find everything you need to plan and hold an event that fits the needs of your particular organization and community while strengthening and creating community partnerships. Check out the “Resources and References” section for more information about issues that may be of particular importance to your organization – like substance abuse and mental health – as well as great organizations and online resources you can turn to for ideas and assistance.

Download the toolkit (pdf).


Asian American Mental Health: Culture Matters

Posted: May 18, 2012

Erica Mu was awarded a California Endowment Health Journalism fellowship to take a closer look at mental health from an Asian American perspective. She has spent the past six months reporting on this topic and has a series on KALW, San Francisco's local radio, called “Asian American Mental Health: Inside Out.”. Some excerpts from the interview:

ERICA MU: Well, I think the real challenge, especially as a member of the Asian American community, is avoiding stereotypes. The last thing I’d want to do is claim that there is a link between ethnicity and mental health. But what I’ve learned through all my interviews is that culture matters.....

ERICA MU: “Asian American” refers to 50-plus, very diverse sub-groups. So when it comes to mental health, approaching Asian Americans as one group is problematic. For example, if you look at the data for the group as a whole, Asian Americans look really healthy – they register lower rates of depression and overall suicide, and they don’t utilize treatment as much as other ethnic populations. But when you zoom in, it’s clear that the data isn’t reflecting the realities many sectors of this community face.....

Listen to the full interview on the KALW website. Read the transcript of the interview.

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