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Study Offers Blueprint For Better Latino Mental Health

Aired 6/25/12 on KPBS News.

California should offer “health retreats” for farm workers. That’s one tactic for improving mental health access for California Latinos included in a study commissioned by the state.

Lali Moheno of Visalia grew up in a family of farm workers. She said one of her brothers had mental problems. "We had to give him a hug. I mean something to settle this guy down. We didn't know there were psychiatrists," explained Moheno.

Untreated mental health problems are common for farm workers and other poor Latinos in California, according to the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities.

A new study from the center offers solutions based on responses from 550 Latinos who took part in community forums. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola is the center's director. He said one of those solutions is setting up school-based mental health programs.

"Identify symptoms early and do something about it to reduce the chances that those symptoms become full-blown diagnosis like autism, schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse," said Aguilar-Gaxiola.

Other tactics include using social media to reduce the stigma of mental problems and increasing the number of promoters - people who act as bridges between health care services and the community.

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