CPEHN Convenes Largest Mobilized BIPOC Collaborative Dedicated to Behavioral Health Equity

Author Details

Monika Lee

(858) 353-7271

Organization: California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
For Immediate Release
April 27, 2021
Contact: Monika Lee, (858) 353-7271

Sacramento, CA – The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network relaunched the Behavioral Health Equity Collaborative, the largest collaborative of organizations serving the behavioral health needs of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Started in 2016, the collaborative brings together state and local organizations that represent diverse groups of underserved people —BIPOC, immigrant, refugee, youth, and LGBTQ+ communities—and mobilizes them to collectively advocate for increased investments in quality mental health services.

The challenges and barriers to behavioral health care that existed before the pandemic have only been heightened in the last year, with a likely tsunami of needs coming as the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery continue. Despite increases in coverage, recent investments, and stated commitments to provide Californians with mental health and substance use disorder services, significant barriers to accessing care remain, including gaps in coverage (uninsurance, lack of culturally and linguistically competent outreach and education to those lacking coverage, job loss leading to insurance loss), workforce adequacy (lack of diversity and shortages), affordability, and systemic discriminatory practices.

“Behavioral health challenges and needs have only worsened since the start of the pandemic. Communities of color face even more challenges to finding culturally and linguistically competent care for both mental health and substance use disorders, during a time when stress, anxiety, and job loss are plaguing our communities,” said Kiran Savage-Sangwan, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “This unique and groundbreaking collaborative seeks to address these growing needs, and what lawmakers and policy makers can do to center equity in our health infrastructure.”

The collaborative is supported by a grant from the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing disparities throughout our systems – and mental health and substance use disorder treatment is no exception,” said Catherine Teare, associate director for the Advancing People-Centered Care team at CHCF. “As we begin to turn toward a post-pandemic period, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to prioritize the equitable behavioral health care that responds to the needs of communities of color, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ+ people and others who haven’t had access or good care. The health care system needs to design solutions in partnership with these communities, and that’s what the Behavioral Health Equity Collaborative will do.”

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found increased anxiety, stress, and depression due to the pandemic, with BIPOC and youth particularly impacted. It is clear BIPOC communities have fared the worst under COVID-19, with disproportionate rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

  • Young adults have experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences, such as closures of universities and loss of income, that may contribute to poor mental health. During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (56%).
  • Non-Hispanic Black adults (48%) and Hispanic or Latino adults (46%) are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder than non-Hispanic White adults (41%).
  • Compared to nonessential workers, essential workers are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder (42% vs. 30%), starting or increasing substance use (25% vs. 11%), and suicidal thoughts (22% vs. 8%) during the pandemic.

BHEC engages in policy advocacy and mental health systems change through:

  • Policy research and development
  • Advocacy with state agencies and state legislature
  • Capacity building of BIPOC-led and serving community organizations

The full list of collaborative partners is below:

  • El Sol Neighborhood Education Center
  • Empowering Pacific Islander Communities
  • Mental Health Advocacy Services
  • Native American Health Center
  • Gender Health Center
  • United Women of East Africa
  • Little Manila Rising
  • Korean Community Center of the East Bay
  • API Equality-LA
  • Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies
  • Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collective
  • Painted Brains
  • Regional Pacific Islander Taskforce
  • San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition