183571 Planting seeds for sustainability: Navigating behavioral health services with immigrant families

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 1:00 PM

Sybill Hyppolite, BA , Institute for Community Health, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
Tammy Freitas da Rocha, MSPS, MSW, LCSW , Somerville Cares About Prevention, Somerville, MA
Gisela Rots, MSc , Cambridge Prevention Coalition, City of Cambridge, Cambridge, MA
Aaron Kirby, MSc , Institute for Community Health, Cambridge, MA
Eileen Dryden, PhD , Institute for Community Health, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
Karen Hacker, MD MPH , Institute for Community Health, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
From the average parent's perspective, to navigate the pediatric behavioral health system is challenging. Coverage for mental health and substance abuse services is often based on strict and diverse eligibility categories that are not easily understood; furthermore, services may be scarce. For immigrant families, limited language capacity and systems knowledge create additional barriers to accessing community behavioral health services and contributes to health disparities.

Cambridge and Somerville, MA, are working across city and disciplinary boundaries on the “Parent Navigator” project. Prevention coalitions, mental health, substance abuse and primary care providers are collaborating to train bilingual immigrant parents on the availability of and access to community mental health and substance abuse services. These trainings equip Parent Navigators with knowledge about insurance, physical health and behavioral health resources. Parent Navigators are then able to disseminate information to family, friends and colleagues through culturally appropriate channels and in their own languages. Through these informal, yet viable, communication channels, more members of immigrant communities are able to access existing health resources.

The three-pronged approach used to promote sustainability includes (1) Participatory planning with two prevention coalitions to build their organizational infrastructure; (2) Creating and strengthening community partnerships to increase the visibility of the Parent Navigator program and to integrate it into local networks; and (3) Implementing a strong evaluation plan to provide tools to increase training participation, inform strategic planning processes, and improve and establish the effectiveness of the program.

This presentation will discuss the Parent Navigator program, its development and potential sustainability.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize the challenges that immigrant families may face in accessing behavioral health services. 2. Identify community-based and collaborative techniques to support immigrant families’ efforts to find pediatric resources. 3. Discuss the potential contributions of participatory planning, community partnerships and evaluation to program sustainability.

Keywords: Immigrants, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the coordinator for the community-based project to be discussed. The skills and strategies that I developed in my previous work as a community organizer have supported work on this current project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.