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Fall conference will address solutions to gaps in Hispanic/Latino services

June 24, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Service providers, researchers and educators will gather in Austin, Texas in October to examine strategies for addressing behavioral health disparities in the Hispanic/Latino population, which reports about an 8% prevalence of substance use disorders in national surveys but relatively low rates of treatment participation.

The National Hispanic and Latino Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC), one of the special focus area ATTCs established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will host a conference Oct. 8-9 at the University of Texas. The conference topic is “Integrating Research, Education and Services to Reduce Behavioral Health Disparities in Hispanic and Latino Populations.”

Miguel Cruz, associate director of the Puerto Rico-based Hispanic and Latino ATTC, says the conference content will serve a threefold purpose:

  • Enhancing participants' understanding of the societal factors that contribute to the disparities seen in this population.

  • Strengthening the substance use treatment workforce.

  • Increasing awareness of novel and promising practices for serving Hispanic/Latino individuals.

Cruz says that while training in behavioral health disciplines has increasingly paid attention to cultural factors involved in illness and recovery, there remains a lack of pertinent materials in Spanish and not enough of a focus on some considerations that are unique to Hispanic populations. As a result, some professionals and programs might not have enough of an appreciation of factors such as the role of the extended family in Latino households, the importance of respect in Hispanic culture, or how spirituality affects the recovery process, he says.

Keynote speakers at the event are H. Westley Clark, MD, MPH, director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and U.S. Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano (D-Calif.). Around 300 attendees are expected, says Cruz, who adds that the conference will conclude with an empowering take-home message for service providers.

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