Current census figures estimate the Latino population at 44.3 million, or 15% of the total U.S. population. In Connecticut, long-term projections suggest that Latinos will make up 13% of the total state population by the year 2025. In response to demographic trends and a recognition by regional behavioral health providers that the available resources offered by both local providers and the CMHC/Clínica Hispana could no longer meet the ever expanding demand for services, initial planning efforts for an enhanced system of behavioral healthcare for the Spanish-speaking Latino community began in 2005. The identified concerns among local agency leaders included:1) the difficulty of recruiting and retaining competent bilingual/bicultural staff; 2) limited training, education, and consultation opportunities to learn about the implementation of evidence-based treatment practices with monolingual Latinos; and 3) limited sources of funding that are inclusive of, and available to multiple agencies. Thus, shared awareness at the local, regional and state level led to a joint effort among behavioral health providers, key personnel at the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and CT State legislators, to develop and successfully implement systemic strategies that would ultimately reduce short-term, ineffective alternatives to care and increase the availability of long-term, responsible, and cost-effective solutions.

In July 2007, two years of collaborative planning came to fruition with the creation of the CT LBHS by a special funding allocation from the Connecticut State Legislature and achieved with the crucial support of State Representative Juan Candelaria from New Haven, as well as other members of the New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, and Waterbury legislative delegation. The establishment of the CT LBHS marks CMHC, its Clínica Hispana, and the collaborating agencies, as leaders in the provision of culturally competent behavioral health services for the Latina/o community of south central Connecticut.

Unique in its community-based collaborative model and bilingual/bicultural capacity-building efforts, long-term transformation includes:

  1. Increasing the availability of bilingual and bicultural staff trained to provide clinical and rehabilitative services to Latinos.
  2. Promoting the utilization of evidence-based practices with a Latino population.
  3. Expanding community programming to serve the Latino community.
  4. Establishing a Council of Advisors to advocate and support systemic change.
  5. Providing comprehensive and continual training and education opportunities to new and existing professional staff.
  6. Developing an effective consultation mechanism for providers seeking information on treating their Latino clients.
  7. Creating a national network to recruit and retain professional Latino treatment staff.
  8. Conducting a comprehensive program evaluation to ensure that issues are being identified and effectively addressed.

© 2009 CT Latino Behavioral Health System       (203) 974-5805       ctlbhs@yale.edu