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Napolitano Introduces the Mental Health for Latinos Act

April 15, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) introduced H.R. 2529, the Mental Health for Latinos Act, directing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop and implement an outreach and education strategy to promote behavioral and mental health among Hispanic and Latino populations.

"Despite the strides we have made, machismo, other cultural tendencies, and disparities within our healthcare system are still preventing members of the Latino community from receiving life-saving mental health services," Napolitano said. "These barriers to care, which existed long before COVID, are causing too many to suffer in silence, and this must change. The Mental Health for Latinos Act boosts our continued efforts to reduce stigma and promote mental wellness, while meeting the diverse needs of Hispanic and Latino populations across the country. As our nation confronts an unfolding mental health crisis due to the pandemic, our critical legislation reinforces the timeless message that there is zero shame in asking for help and that seeking support is a sign of strength."

H.R. 2529 outlines a strategy which must be designed to:

  • Provide information on evidence-based practices, interventions, and treatments that are culturally and linguistically appropriate;
  • Increase awareness of symptoms of mental illnesses common among such populations, taking into account differences within subgroups, such as gender, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, or ethnicity; 
  • Ensure full participation of both consumers and community members in the development and implementation of materials;
  • Meet the diverse cultural and language needs of the various Latino and Hispanic populations;
  • Address the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the mental and behavioral health of the Latino and Hispanic populations.

Napolitano, the founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, has coauthored legislation in past Congresses introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), to reduce stigma among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations. She also works closely with fellow mental health champion and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Youth Suicide and Mental Health Task Force, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), to raise awareness and identify solutions to address the issue of Black youth suicide and mental health.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).