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Napolitano Introduces the Reducing Mental Health Stigma in the Hispanic Community Act

October 1, 2019
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC)  Last week, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32) introduced H.R. 4543, the Reducing Mental Health Stigma in the Hispanic Community Act. The bill would direct 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.

“The Reducing Mental Health Stigma in the Hispanic Community Act supports our continued goal of stigma-reduction and promotes mental wellness, while meeting the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of Hispanic and Latino populations across the U.S.,” Napolitano said. “Machismo and other cultural tendencies are still preventing members of our community from being open and honest about what might be troubling them. This legislation reinforces our message that there is absolutely zero shame in asking for help and that seeking support is a sign of strength. By reducing stigma we are opening doors to life-saving care for those who need it most.”

H.R. 4543 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.

“The National Latino Behavioral Health Association knows that educating the public, families, individuals, and Latino communities about the facts pertaining to mental health and mental illness helps to reduce stigma about these health conditions and increase awareness about the importance of accessing behavioral health treatment,” said Frederick Sandoval, MPA, Executive Director of NLBHA. “We also know that removing barriers to treatment including stigma will improve the well-being of those who receive education, services and care.”

“The American Psychological Association (APA) supports this legislation and commends Congresswoman Napolitano for working to reduce stigma associated with mental health within the Hispanic population,” said Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, CEO of APA. “Representative Napolitano clearly understands the needs of this population. This bill emphasizes the importance of evidence-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate treatments, which APA believes are essential for all communities.”

Napolitano, the founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, has coauthored legislation, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), to reduce stigma among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations (H.R. 2826). 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. 

“Mental health does not discriminate: it affects all of us regardless of race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or gender,” Napolitano added. “We must all be part of the solution and work to ensure access and availability of mental health services for all.”

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

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