Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  Youtube 

PRINT E-MAIL Bookmark and Share

Latino Leaders Summit Series - Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday Summit Descriptions

led by Congresswoman Grace Flores Napolitano

"Mental Health in the Latino Community: Erasing the Stigma, Breaking the Silence, and Healing the Mind for Better Tomorrows" 

The summit will focus on the critical concern of suicide rates and mental health needs within the Latino community.  Panelists will discuss strategies and recommendations to improve the way Latinos seek, receive, and respond to mental health and suicide prevention resources.

Moderator: Dr. Melba Vasquez, President, American Psychological Association

Henry Acosta, Executive Director, National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health and Chair, Alliance for Latino Behavioral Health Workforce Development
MaJose Carrasco, Secretary, National Latino Behavioral Health Association
Pamela Hyde, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Session Recap

The Mental Health Summit began with Congresswoman Grace Napolitano who has been working towards drawing attention to mental health and eradicating the stigma within the Latino community for the past 15 years. The negative stigma surrounding mental health within the Latino community prevents individuals from seeking mental health services. In order to begin taking the necessary steps to eliminate the negative stigma, Latino’s need to initiate a conversation to discuss the mental health condition of the Latino community including addressing the cost of mental health services, availability of culturally competent providers and the much needed reform of current laws created to deliver mental health services, and highlight existing barriers to adequately access mental health services. This dilemma must be addressed at a local, state and national level.

The purpose of the mental health summit was to initiate a discussion regarding the needs of the Latino community and call attention to the need for bilingual services and providers. Additionally, it focused on reforming laws to include mental health services within the system and having mental health agencies work under an umbrella to promote better access, decrease suicide rates in the Latino community and increase access to help and get rid of the stigma. Healthcare providers must work together to better align the resources available to ensure the Latino community receives the mental health services they direly need, and to encourage students to go into the area of mental health, to serve as the next generation of bilingual mental health providers.

Dr. Melba Vazquez, President of the American Psychological Association,  moderated the panel discussion focusing on the critical concern of suicide rates as they relate to mental health disparities, specifically how Latino’s seek, respond and utilize mental health services.

Mental health is a quality of life issue; without coping mechanisms individuals are  forced to have a very difficult life. There are, however, access, cultural and linguistic issues that must be addressed in order to facilitate the appropriate provision of mental health services. Suicide is currently the 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 and the fastest growing age group for suicide is 10-14 year-olds. Depression and mental health disorders affect the lives of many youth and legislation sponsored by Rep. Napolitano (HR 2531 Mental Health in Schools Act) would provide a real and important source of recovery for the thousands that currently struggle with their mental illness alone.

Behavioral health is essential to good health. As the administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Pamela Hyde equated living without behavioral health services to emotional bleeding, connecting emotional and psychological health. She highlighted SAMHSA’s strategic initiatives for FY2011-2012 which includes prevention of substance abuse and mental illness, trauma and justice, military families, health reform implementation, health information technology, data, outcomes and quality, public awareness and support, and housing and homelessness.

MaJose Carrasco, Secretary of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association and Director, Multicultural Action Center, National Alliance on Mental Illness, provided statistical and research data on the current need for culturally competent mental health providers to serve Latinos. One out of every four Americans has a mental health problem. Latinos have a higher risk for depression and anxiety where 17.7% of Latinos will face depression at one point in their life. Second and third generations have an increase in mental health issues due to dealing with acculturation. The conflicting ideals of preserving their culture and embracing the American way of living increase the chances of depression. In addition, disparities in access and quality of care vary due to lack of insurance, information on mental health, and avoidance of treatment because of the stigma around mental health. In the Latino culture mental illnesses are seen as punishments from God, which leads to many situations digressing.

Henry Acosta, Chair of the Alliance for Latino Behavioral Health Workforce  Development, discussed the disparity within the behavioral health workforce in serving the Latino community and addressed the need for more Latino mental health professionals. There is a crisis for mental healthcare providers with quality and education based programs. In addition to needing a masters degree, providers must obtain a certification in order to practice. Latinos are more likely to be medicated, hospitalized due to the workforce shortage and disparity in services.

As closing remarks, President Elect Dr. Melba Vasquez reviewed initiatives being taken by the American Psychological Association in order to facilitate the concerns with the topic of mental health and the stigma around seeking help. It is important to increase scientific understanding of how cultures affect mental health issues, address the psychological role of immigration, acculturation, addressing the issues of racism and discrimination as well as enhance inclusion of all minorities in regards to access, education, and understanding the growing gap between generations.

led by Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi

"Increasing College Graduation Rates for Latinos-A National Imperative"

Sponsored by: AT&T and Hyundai

The summit will focus on the critical need to increase U.S. college attainment rates and the role that Latinos will play in future workforce needs. The Obama Administration and other organizations recently embraced a goal to increase the percentage of Americans with two to four year college degrees from 39% to 60% by 2025 to address an expected shortage of 23 million college educated adults in the U.S. workforce in 2025. The Hispanic community will play a critical role in the endeavor, as Latinos are expected to account for 25% of the U.S. population by 2030.  Panelists will discuss the role that the Latino community will play to meet future workforce needs and discuss strategies to increase access to quality education and educational attainment of Latinos to help keep the U.S. competitive in the global marketplace.

Sarita Brown, President, Excelencia in Education
Norelie Garcia, Associate Vice President, Public Affairs, AT&T
Jose F. Mendez, President, Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez
Mildred Otero, Senior Policy Officer, Gates Foundation
Juan Sepulveda, Director, White House Initiative on Hispanic Education

Click here to check out the event's photo gallery.

led by Congressman Ed Pastor

 "Latinos and the Job Crisis: Putting People Back to Work"

Sponsors: AFL-CIO, LiUNA! and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

The summit will explore the current plight of Latino workers in the current stagnant job market. The Latino unemployment rate is 12.4% while the national average is 9.5%. Panelists will discuss current barriers to employment and propose solutions to put Americans back to work.

Daniel Costa, Economist, Economic Policy Institute
Jose Garza, Deputy General Counsel, House Committee on Education and Labor
Gabriela Lemus, Senior Advisor and Director, Office of Public Engagement, U.S. Department of Labor
Esther Lopez, Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

Session Recap
Representative Ed Pastor led this lively panel focused on putting people back to work. While much of the emphasis lately has been on the nearly 15 million people unemployed, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis drew attention to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which is scored by the Congressional Budget Office as saving some 2.5 to 3.3 million jobs that would have been lost if the President and Congress had not been quick to act. Included in the $787 billion plan were a combination of federal tax cuts and incentives, social entitlement spending, and funding for agency-awarded contracts, grants, and loans. The package also provided for $4.81 billion in support for workforce development programs administered by the Department of Labor (DOL).

Solis noted that the recovery act, infrastructure projects, and government  incentives have provided investment in new technologies, in lean technologies, and in our automobile industry. She said that the president asked the automotive industry to reformat itself and produce energy efficient products that Americans would buy. As a result, she noted that Chrysler and GM have come back out of bankruptcy and created 76,000 new jobs. Additionally, this has provided another breath of air for the myriad automotive industry suppliers. She said that the administration has also been able to incentivize the development of new technologies such as lithium batteries and hybrid vehicles. All of this can help to bring back the middle class and a stronger base of manufacturing jobs. She noted that construction jobs lost won’t come back the same way, but that there are good opportunities to retrofit housing to bring down energy consumption. She cited significant interest in retooling our workforce and a strong demand for electrical workers, plumbers, and welders.

Solis said that an area that has seen tremendous job growth in the past few months—despite the oil spill—is in mining and oil. Many of these are dangerous jobs, and DOL has to hold the businesses accountable for the safety of their workers. She warned that while businesses have to make tough decisions, this isn’t a time to skimp on safety and protection. She noted that all too often that leads to more injuries and out of pocket costs. DOL has increased penalties and put more investigators in the field to ensure safe working conditions in mines. She emphasized that our laws protect all workers in the United States—including the undocumented. The department’s “We Can Help,” campaign was developed to let all workers in the United States know their rights and where to get assistance. Materials have been developed in several languages, including Spanish and Vietnamese. “The future is up to us,” she said. While it’s hard to get a federal agency to act as quickly, she said that she’s seen dramatic change occur already.

Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute noted that while the country is  officially in recovery mode, it’s been a jobless recovery so far. He said that first quarter 2010 corporate profits are six percent higher than before the recession, yet there are six percent less total jobs than before. Employers have recovered their profits but are not hiring or investing, and no jobs are being created. He cited that there is only one job for every five job seekers in the country. In addition, Moody’s Economy.com has predicted that unemployment will go up to 10 percent for the first quarter next year. BLS data shows Latino employment at 1.4 times their white counterparts. Unemployment for Latinas is even higher than Latino men at 1.7 times their white counterparts. In this tough economy, he noted you can’t re-educate or train your way out of unemployment; there are simply nos jobs right now except in mining. In addition, he cited that 40 percent of all Latinos who have jobs are working fewer hours than they would like. As a result, about half are having problems paying for rent or their mortgage, one-third are having problems with medical expenses, half are cutting back on food or utilities and gas, and of those who have 401K programs, 35 percent have stopped contributions to them. He cited that one-third of Latino children are being raised in poverty as compared to 10 percent of white children. For 2007-08, Latinos saw a much greater increase in the poverty rate for Latinos than Whites—a 1.7 percent increase vs. 0.4 percent. Documenting the growing income inequality, Latinos saw a 10 percent decline in their ability to hold a good job—one that can support a family. In 2008, this was defined as $14.51 per hour or $31,832 annually.

Costa also said that the original stimulus package was way too small. The rising deficit has now created fiscal concerns, he noted, most of which was created by the recession itself as social safety nets kicked in, including rising health care costs. Next, he said, we got healthcare reform, a program that focuses on expanding coverage more than cutting costs. He said it further entrenches our costly for-profit system, and healthcare costs will continue to rise. Right now he said that we need to continue social safety net spending to continue unemployment benefits, provide fiscal relief to states so they don’t continue firing teachers and police, and invest in infrastructure spending. “We can’t attract investment unless we have first-class infrastructure,” Costa said.

Esther Lopez, director of civil rights and community action for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCWIU) focused on creating quality jobs and a framework for how industries should treat workers across our country. Lopez said that quality jobs are those that provide living wages, decent benefits including health care coverage, provisions for retirement protection, and direct local hiring of residents of the local community with employers paying their fair share of taxes. She said that you can’t talk about recovery without immigration reform. While the law needs to be enforced, she said that E-verify is on the verge of discriminating against all Latinos. She reported that Latinos are joining unions at a faster rate than any other group of workers. “I am thrilled that Latino workers are standing up and saying ‘I want to be in a union because I believe in standards for my job,’” she said.

Panel members also discussed the importance of encouraging unemployed workers to go to the Department of Labor “One Stops” so they can get start getting job assistance. DOL is also looking for ways to work with other departments and stretch their resources by working together. This includes partnering with the states to use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) emergency funds to support innovative ways to create jobs for those who qualify, $500 million in competitive grants for green jobs training, working to ensure small business development—the fastest area of job growth, and workforce investment. The recovery act included $4 billion in additional workforce development.

Several key legislative passed this year also increase economic opportunities for Latino families:

• Increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour;
• The Hire Act, which will create about 300,000 new jobs;
• The Worker, Home Ownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, which provides tax relief for small businesses and other struggling U.S. citizens;
• The Student Aid and Financial Responsibility Act, passed as part of health care reform, which is the single largest investment in college aid in history and strengthens community colleges and minority serving institutions;
• Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009,which makes it easier to file for wage discrimination; and
• Two worker safety acts, The Offshore Gas and Oil Workers Act and the Robert C. Byrd Act, which focuses on the safety of mine workers.

In addition, several new initiatives have recently been introduced. These include:

• A new proposal to invest in infrastructure development introduced by the President; and
• The Local Jobs for America Act, which would create nearly 1 million jobs in the private and public sector with grants targeted to low and minority communities.

Click here to check out the event's photo gallery.

led by Congressman Charles Gonzalez

"The Census and Redistricting: The Future is Now"

Sponsor: Abbott

The summit will focus on the dramatic increase in the Latino population across the country and in certain regions of the U.S. that the 2010 Census is expected to show and what it means. Panelists will explore redistricting and discuss some of the political opportunities and legal challenges that will most likely arise as Latinos seek more political clout and respresentation commensurate with their numbers.

Angelo Falcon, President, National Institute for Latino Policy
Hon. Felipe Fuentes, State Assembly, CA, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators
Cathy McCully, Chief, Census Redistricting Data Office
Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF
Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO

Click here to check out the event's photo gallery.