A new program at Sacramento’s Mexican Consulate aims to provide mental health check-ups to visitors while they’re waiting for government services.
Roughly 1 in 5 Latinos experience mental health challenges in the U.S., and community advocates worry the issue has worsened in light of the recent Mexico earthquake and ongoing immigration raids.
So the Ventanilla de Salud, or “health window”, expanded Sept. 22 to offer on-site therapy to people waiting for passports, notary signatures and other services.
The Sacramento nonprofit Health Education Council has operated the window since 2009. They’ve been offering diabetes screenings, blood pressure tests and insurance enrollment help for a while, but they’ve had to refer people off site for mental health services.
Program director Cynthia Lopez Foltz says they’ve been trying to put more emphasis on mental well-being over the last year. Starting now, they’ll provide mental health assessments for all visitors, and help them make appointments with the on-site bilingual therapist as needed.
The therapist is currently available every Monday, though the group hopes to hire more mental health staff soon.
“Given the landscape, as well as the natural disasters that have been happening most recently, we’re most at risk for suffering from stress or anxiety,” Lopez Foltz says. “To respond to that need, that’s why we’ve been wanting to offer a deeper, more robust service here at the consulate.”
The Ventanilla de Salud mental health program is a five-year pilot , funded by a $1 million state grant. Los Angeles has a similar pilot program, which may eventually spread to to other Mexican Consulates throughout California.