Dr. Luis Torres

Great Lakes MHTTC Training in Ohio: Cultural Elements in Treating Hispanic and Latino Populations

Publication Date: Mar 15, 2019

Ohio Latino Logo The Hispanic and Latino population in the United States has grown rapidly in recent decades, representing 18% of the population in 2016. In Ohio, as in many other states, the increase in the Hispanic and Latino population has highlighted the need for a culturally-informed workforce. 

To help address that need, The Great Lakes ATTC and the Great Lakes Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) co-sponsored a training on February 21-22, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio, in collaboration with the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission.

The two-day intensive training,titled “Cultural Elements in Treating Hispanic and Latino Populations,” addressed elements of culture that affect access and retention in substance use services. Alfredo Cerrato, Intensive Training Specialist with the Great Lakes ATTC and MHTTC, coordinated and facilitated the event.

The Institute of Research, Education, and Services in Addiction (IRESA) of the Universidad del Caribe, Bayamon, Puerto Rico, secured the subject matter expert presenters, Dr. Haner Hernandez and Dr. Luis R. Torres. Dr. Hernandez is a Senior Consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. Dr. Hernandez has also served as an expert consultant on the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (The National CLAS Standards) for the New England ATTC for more than a decade. Dr. Torres is an Associate Professor in the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. Their presentations and group exercises covered 1) statistics, health disparities, and definitions; 2) cultural change and family transformation, 3) approaches to recovery with Hispanic and Latino populations, and 4) approaches to integrating culture into treatment. 

Top Priority: Building the Workforce

As the workshop was mostly interactive, the 40 participants were able to share numerous issues they are dealing with in attempting to provide behavioral health services to Hispanic and Latino individuals throughout Ohio. Addressing the shortage of qualified, bilingual/bicultural behavioral clinicians was identified as a top priority  Workshop leaders and other participants provided helpful feedback throughout the session. Plans are underway to bring this same event to other locations in Ohio and to take the lessons learned to the next level. 

The trainers’ engaging presentation styles encouraged group interaction as they delved into the world of cultural elements for Latino populations. Luis and Haner, as they preferred to be called, asked questions that sparked lively, but well-organized discussions. The dialog stimulated critical thinking that will help participants in their understanding of cultural elements as they adjust to ever-changing culturallandscapes in the fields of mental health and addiction.

The Great Lakes ATTC and MHTTC look forward to offering similar trainings within our region. If you are interested in learning more about cultural elements, cross-cultural implementation principles, and the dynamics of the National CLAS Standards, please contact Alfredo Cerrato at [email protected].

Related Resources

ATTC Network: HealtheKnowledge, Special Topics in Behavioral Health: 
Understanding the Basics of Class Race and Ethnicity

Great Lakes ATTC Culturally Competent Service Delivery

National Hispanic and Latino ATTC

National Hispanic and Latino MHTTC

National Hispanic and Latino PTTC