Latinx communities view promotoras/es as trusted community mental health workers who build bridges between clinical care and local residents. These Spanish-speaking lay health workers help patients navigate the healthcare system. With the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that non-English speaking communities gain access to mental health resources. Reaffirming its commitment to addressing health inequities, the Board of Supervisors today approved a motion, authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, directing the County Department of Mental Health (DMH) to retain the Promotores de Salud Mental program so that it continues operating as a stand-alone program.

“Our communities of color are on the frontlines of this pandemic and are unable to telecommute, which adds to their stress and anxiety,” said Supervisor Solis. “Sadly, many Latinos lack access to quality mental health care, but promotoras know how to connect people to the help they need. Promotoras are trusted community members who share the ethnicity, language, and life experiences of the communities they serve. Their work is critical.”

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that Latinx communities were more likely to say they or someone in their household had experienced a pay cut or job loss due to COVID-19. Economic burdens along with stress, isolation, and high COVID-19 infection rates, highlight the structural inequities impacting LA County’s Latinx communities.

‘Promotores de salud,’ also known as promotoras, is the Spanish term for ‘community health workers.’

“There is no stigma in seeking help from mental health professionals. It is a sign of strength, and I want everyone to know they can reach out to us if they are feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19,” added Supervisor Solis.

Today’s motion directs DMH to meet with relevant stakeholders, including promotoras/es, when considering changes to the program and to report back to the Board twice a month until Dec. 31, 2020

The motion also directs DMH to collect data on uptake, utilization, and reach of the Promotores de Salud Mental program and to report back within 90 days. The motion also directs the Chief Executive Office to identify one-time funding from the CARES Act, or any other funding source, that would expand the promotoras/es program so it could provide even wider cultural and linguistic support to our communities hardest hit by COVID-19.

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov