Case Study #1: School-based mental health program
Since 1990, New City, Mississippi has experienced a rapid influx of Latino immigrants. 2000 Census data reveals that Latinos of any nationality accounted for a whopping 39% of New City's population. Unfortunately the vast majority of the small, rural town's burgeoning Latino population remains mired in poverty. Young and adolescent Latinos face a multitude of health and socioeconomic disparities that hinder their ability to do well in the classroom. The mental health of this demographic is particularly problematic as more than half of the 1,500 self-identified Latino students enrolled in the New City school system possess some type of mental health need yet only 3-5% report accessing mental health services in the community. New City is a microcosm of the increasingly problematic national political, educational, health, and socioeconomic trends of America's burgeoning Latino populations. As the proportion of Latinos continues to grow it, becomes increasingly imperative to incorporate and pursue mental health objectives that affect marginalized Latino populations, especially Latino youth.
Launched in 2007 as a three-year initiative on a privately provided $100,000 per year grant, the Building on Strengths program is an exemplarily collaborative program that partners an array of community institutions to address the mental health needs of Latino communities in New City, Mississippi. The New City school district, two local public schools, the State University of Mississippi School of Social Work, and Nuestra Comunidad, a bilingual and bicultural community mental health center, comprise the partner-organizations. The main objective is to create a system of care with an emphasis on early identification of emotional and behavioral problems through the use of a cultural liaison, while improving services for immigrant Latino children and their families by reducing barriers to access.
The coalition behind Building on Strengths is entrenched in the...