Today in Fresno, we had a good turnout at the first CPEHN town hall meeting to discuss the draft Statewide Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities. Roughly three dozen mental health advocates gathered at Fresno’s Downtown Business Hub to provide public comment on a draft plan aimed at reducing disparities in mental health in California’s communities of color and LGBTQ population.
Representatives from mental health professionals serving a wide array of populations at the state and local level gathered to provide their expertise to the ongoing efforts of the California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP).
The meeting generated discussion on a variety of topics. One primary focus was data collection to identify disparities within subgroups of the five targeted populations in the plan (African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino, LGBTQ, and Native American). For example, the Central Valley’s sizeable Hmong population has different needs than other Asian and Pacific Islander populations in other regions in the state.
Perhaps the hottest topic at the meeting was the importance of cultural competency within the mental health workforce. There were many suggestions on how to ensure that the workforce best understands the unique needs of California’s diverse populations, including mandatory trainings, improving curricula at the college level, and developing and disseminating resources.
The attendees were also enthusiastic about the CRDP’s potential to determine the most effective community-based mental health practices.
The comments recorded at today’s town hall and the remaining four meetings (Oakland on Wednesday, San Diego and Los Angeles next week, and Eureka on February 17th) will be incorporated into the final strategic plan. The final plan will then be used to guide the next phase of the CRDP, which will fund projects across the state that serve the mental health needs of the state’s communities of color and LGBTQ populations.
The public comment period is open for three more weeks, so please review the draft and submit your comments. And if you would like to attend one of the four remaining town halls, you can register today on our website.