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Latino mental health outreach campaign launches in the San Fernando Valley

Latino mental health outreach campaign launches in the San Fernando Valley
September 2, 2015 LaCLAve

September 2, 2015

The “La CLAVE” bilingual campaign aims to help Latinos obtain early treatment for serious mental illness in Pacoima, San Fernando and Sylmar.

LOS ANGELES – Latino immigrants are much less likely than other groups to seek professional help when a family member or loved one is showing the early signs of serious mental illness. This is one of the main reasons why the La CLAve campaign was created, to help Latinos recognize these signs and seek help quickly, when it can do the most good. La CLAve is a pilot mental health outreach campaign managed by the University of Southern California (USC) to help Spanish-speaking Latinos living in San Fernando, Sylmar and Pacoima identify the signs of serious mental illness and promptly seek professional care. The campaign, to be implemented in Spanish and English, encourages people seeking help to visit or call the San Fernando Mental Health Center at (818) 832-2400 for mental health services.

“One of the biggest challenges in recognizing the signs of mental illness is that people often attribute the signs and symptoms of mental illness to significant life challenges or stress and as a result, tend not to seek professional help,” said Dr. Steven R. Lopez, Director of La CLAve, Professor of Psychology and Social Work at USC.  “Latinos often rely on family, the clergy, or close friends for advice, people who aren’t trained to identify serious mental illness or know where to refer them for help.”

The overall goal of La CLAVE is to reduce the time it takes Latinos with serious mental illness to seek treatment.  La CLAve is a mnemonic device in Spanish to aid the retention on how to detect the following symptoms of psychosis:

C       False beliefs or delusions/Creencias falsas o ideas delirantes

L        Disorganized speech/Lenguaje desorganizado

A       Hallucinations/Alucinaciones

Two examples of hallucinations are the following:

V       Seeing things that others do not see/Ver cosas que otros no ven

E        Hearing sounds or voices that others do not hear/Escuchar sonidos o voces que otros no escuchan

The La CLAVE campaign has a team of bilingual outreach coordinators who will make presentations and distribute information at local events and engage directly with the community.  Other campaign elements include establishing partnerships with local organizations, a website, and media outreach.

To help further explain the symptoms of serious mental illness, La CLAve also produced a 17-minute film in English and Spanish that will be shown at community events in the target cities.

Having access to mental health services is a critical component of the campaign, which is why La CLAve has partnered with the San Fernando Mental Health Center, which provides low-cost services to residents of Los Angeles County.  People will be encouraged to call the center at (818) 832-2400 for mental health services.

“Early detection is key,” said Dr. Alex Kopelowicz, Medical Director of the San Fernando Mental Health Center.  “We have a wide array of services available to match a person or family’s needs. We just need to let people know we are here and are ready to help.”

Results from the La CLave pilot project will serve as a model for future mental health outreach campaigns targeting Latinos. The project will run through the end of 2018 with results to be publicly shared to maximize the opportunities for public, community-based, and private-sector organizations to obtain and use.

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