California has the largest Latino population in America and California’s largest Latino community is right here in Los Angeles County. To be precise, the county’s SPA 7 (Service Planning Area) neighborhoods have the largest Latino community in America. This southeast county area includes the cities of East L.A., Pico Rivera, Montebello, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, and other neighborhoods with as many as 98.4% Latino residents. Because SPA 7 is also L.A. CADA’s headquarters, we are concerned about the significant health disparities faced by this once minority group here.
It’s important to note that Latinos (L.A. CADA clients’ preferred name) have the highest uninsured rates of any racial group in the United States. In 2019, the Census Bureau reported that only 50% of Latinos had private insurance coverage, as compared to 74.7% for non-Hispanic whites. In addition, 18.5% of L.A. County’s Latino families live in poverty as compared to 9.7% of whites. Even the pandemic presents stark disparities for our Latino residents. A 2021 USC study of a large and diverse group of Medi-Cal enrollees found that Latino patients had much higher odds of a positive COVID-19 test, hospitalization, and death than white patients. And while their rates of behavioral health disorders may not significantly differ from the general population, Latinos have substantially lower access to mental health and substance use treatment – especially evidence-based treatment that works, including culturally-responsive care.
To improve equity, L.A. CADA is devoted to the delivery of Latino-responsive prevention and treatment services. More than just Spanish language-based care, culturally responsive behavioral healthcare for Latino patients means that treatment addresses the issues of stigma and cultural mores, including immigration trauma, stereotypes, rigid gender roles, and the use of folk-healers. It means that the patient’s family is informed, educated about, and included in treatment services. Culturally responsive services also tackle the hard issues of homophobia, religion, family violence, mistrust of public systems, and confidentiality, while providing awareness education for service access in a dignified and sensitive way. Ultimately, successful behavioral health services work to engender trust between the provider, the patient, and family members.
At L.A. CADA, we’ve found that the use of community and peer mentors in behavioral healthcare is one of the most important factors in long-term recovery. If you are a Latino in recovery, please consider linking up with a healthcare organization to lend important mentorship volunteer services.
Have you heard Latino mentor Danny Trejo’s Recovery Story?