Research makes clear that Hispanics and Latinos are much less likely to seek mental health services. Which is why Sonoma State University faculty and students have partnered with Latino Service Providers (LSP), an informal group that aims to create a healthier community for Latinos in Sonoma County.

Together, the campus and the community organization have
launched a new program, "Testimonios: Reducing Mental Health Disparities for Latinos," led by Francisco H. Vázquez, Ph.D., professor and director of the Hutchins Institute for Public Policy Studies and Community Action at Sonoma State and president of the board of directors of LSP.

Sonoma State and LSP are examining how Latino cultural practices such as mariachi music, mural painting, theater, and even conversation (
pláticas) and tamale-making, can be implemented into therapeutic practices to promote mental and behavioral health.

Over the next six years, the program will train local high school students to be
promotores de salud mental, or mental health advocates.

S
onoma State is helping to recruit and prepare the advocates, who will collect and circulate information to the community at home and school and through social media. The high school students will also connect people in their communities to the appropriate services for mental health treatment in Sonoma County.

"We are trying to create a pipeline for students to become mental health workers, because there's a tremendous lack of bilingual Latinos in that field," said Vázquez in an interview with
Sonoma State.

Learn more about SSU's efforts to promote mental health services to the Latino community.