Goshen College is partnering with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital for a study on how communities of color access mental health services.
As part of a four-year study, Goshen’s Center for Intercultural and International Education (CIIE) will work with the Disparities Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital to reduce racial/ethnic mental health disparities and to benefit minority communities. CIIE will identify key community stakeholders in the Asian-American, Latino and African American communities in California, Colorado, Georgia and Indiana to serve as focus groups in the study.
“We’ll play a very important role in providing access to people of color to share what works for them in accessing mental health services,” said Gilberto Perez, senior director of intercultural development and educational partnerships at Goshen College. “We’re the bridge-builder between the research team and the community.”
Once connected, CIIE will conduct focus groups with participants from the communities to better understand the disparities in accessing mental health services, and generate proposals to improve access and reduce mental health disparities in minority communities across the country.
“The big questions we hope to answer are ‘How do we help communities of color access mental health services? What mechanisms play a role in mental health disparities and what policies need to be created that address mental health disparities in minority communities?’” Perez said.
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities provided the Disparities Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital a $125,000 grant for this research.
The Disparities Research Unit will also collaborate with the Transformation Center in Massachusetts to identify individuals with lived experiences of mental health, substance abuse and trauma recovery, and with the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP) to select policymakers to represent state agencies, including Medicaid, mental health, social services and public health. Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital are overseeing all parts of this study.
The aims of the study include:
- Examining a multi-faceted model explaining mechanisms underlying racial/ethnic differences in mental disorder onset, persistence and severity.
- Identifying whether the individual and county-level health care supply barriers to access and receipt of mental health care differ for racial/ethnic minority populations.
- In collaboration with community partners, translation of epidemiological findings into actionable targets for intervention and/or policy proposals that can address the identified disparities.