Latinos are disproportionately affected by persistent, high levels of untreated mental illness. In California,
rates of untreated mental illness are even more severe among foreign-born Latinos (67%) than U.S.-born
Latinos (46%). Moreover, Latinos with limited English proficiency are less likely to recognize a need for
treatment, put off treatment for longer periods of time, and access fewer mental health services compared to
English-proficient Latinos. Stigma, limited mental health literacy, and cultural factors have been identified as
major contributors to Latino mental health treatment disparities. Although Latinos may be reluctant to seek out
mental health professionals, they often rely on religious congregations and spiritual forms of coping when
confronted with mental health problems. However, religious congregations report major obstacles to
collaborating with the mental health sector including the lack of mental health training, staffing, and resources.
Strategic partnerships between religious congregations and community-based organizations can be leveraged
to target sources of mental health treatment disparities among Latinos. The National Alliance on Mental Illness
(NAMI), the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization has developed a host of programs tailored
to the different needs and segments of the community affected by mental illness, including programs uniquely
designed to address culturally diverse and faith-based communities. We propose a cluster randomized
controlled trial of a multi-component, church-based, intervention that leverages NAMI's resources and
programs to decrease stigma, increase mental health literacy, and improve access to mental health services
among Latinos in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.
Our specific aims are to:
1) Assess whether a multi-component, church-based intervention tailored for Latinos increases
needed mental health treatment use and support provision to individuals with a mental illness.
2) Examine whether mental health service use and support provision are related to targeted
mechanisms of change such as stigma and mental health literacy.
3) Explore differences in the effectiveness of the intervention by immigration status (e.g., U.S. vs.
non-U.S. born; English proficient vs. limited English proficient; years in the U.S.).
Nearly two decades have passed since a landmark Surgeon General's report highlighted the significant
mental health treatment disparities among Latinos, yet these disparities appear to be worsening. Partnering
with an established mental health awareness and advocacy organization makes this model highly sustainable
and could yield significant impact for the estimated 147.3 million Americans who are members of a religious