Mind Springs and Mountain Family Health Centers say plenty of mental health resources available to Spanish-speaking population
Mental health professionals in the Roaring Fork Valley admit that language barriers and misinformation present challenges for their Latino clients.
“It’s pretty darn difficult to find bilingual therapists,” Mind Springs Health Director of Operations Kathy Capps said. “We believe that the best care and treatment would be to offer everyone services in their native tongue whenever possible.”
The shortage of therapists in Colorado, let alone across the country, can make that hard to facilitate, Capps explained.
Medically qualified interpreters, coupled with cutting-edge technology, has helped those who do not speak English, or may be in the process of learning, to still receive meaningful help.
“In the Glenwood Springs office, we have an interpreter who can be scheduled to meet during the time that the client is going to be there,” Capps said. “If that doesn’t work, in terms of scheduling, then we have an application [Stratus] where we video in an interpreter.”
The video remote interpretation allows medically qualified interpreters to join a session via tablet, smartphone or computer, and can translate 27 languages, 24 hours a day.
Capps explained the benefits that “peers” offer to English-speaking and non-English-speaking clients, alike.
“This might, for example, be someone who was depressed, hospitalized or had a suicide attempt at some point in their life, and they have come up and out of that episode and they’re well. And they want to use their experience to help others,” Capps said of the non-trained clinicians.
“In fact, they don’t have to have a degree in anything. …We put them through some training about listening, sharing their story, change talk and helping people along. That’s a huge piece of the behavioral health treatment continuum that is different than a therapist,” Capps said.
While not always the case, according to Capps, members of the Hispanic and Latino populations enduring a crisis oftentimes turn to family and churches for assistance instead of seeking professional help.
Mountain Family Health Centers Behavioral Health Director Dr. Gary Schreiner agreed, but also expanded on that.
“Plus, there is some political stuff going on right now and they are afraid. It’s called public charge,” Schreiner said. “There is still a fear in the community that if they come access services, they’re going to get deported.”
Schreiner explained that no one receiving help at Mountain Family Health should ever fear deportation, though.
“We are trying to get our behavioral health advocates out into the community to let them know that is not the case,” Schreiner said.
In addition to bilingual therapists being on staff, all of Mountain Family Health’s behavioral health advocates speak Spanish. That’s a big part of their job, to visit churches and various other organizations that cater to the Latino populations, he said.
“We are out trying to do as much outreach as possible,” Schreiner said.
Mountain Family Health’s behavioral health advocates help with interpretation, signing people up for Medicaid, and even facilitating transportation, Schreiner also explained.
“We will help anyone, regardless of their ability to pay,” he said.
Schreiner added that it did not matter whether the patient spoke fluent English or only Spanish, Mountain Family Health never turns anyone away.
“And, we will do whatever we can to keep that language barrier as minimal as possible,” Schreiner said.
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