First Annual Multicultural Symposium

I had the pleasure to attend the amazing initiative started by NAMI California to develop the First Annual Multicultural Symposium on July 31, 2014 at Newport Beach. The symposium was created as a statewide “effort to convene leaders who serve at the local, regional and statewide levels. The goal is to engage leaders from public and private sectors in an open and candid conversation around existing problems and finding solutions that can help us to better serve all individuals and families struggling with mental health challenges.”

The symposium was enlightening and also expected. Facts and data was exposed that talked about the under served and unserved minority communities that live in California and unfortunately do not have access to mental health care or the access they have is to services that are not the best quality nor culturally appropriate. This is not surprising, the numbers showing how minorities suffer from mental illness are staggering and increasing over time. Health equality and Health equity was discussed by Caliph Assagai, JD, an expert in the subject, who explained the difference between both terms and managed to open a lot of eyes. Health equity is established as the main outcome from all the community efforts to erase or better health disparities in the multicultural communities here in California.

 Caliph Assagai, JD

Caliph Assagai, JD

Voices were heard, from leaders in the community, mental health agencies and the community members themselves and the same cry was heard unanimously. Health disparities and lack of culturally appropriate mental health care are the main burdens in the multicultural community. Action plans were discussed by doing workshops and logging all the input from the participants and hopefully a timeline with outcomes will be developed in order to provide better care for the communities that we love so much. In the end, human coalition is an amazingly powerful force, I am not psychic but I can foresee a Multicultural Committee in California forming right now and here at NAMI OC we are part of the leadership role to bring this Committee to life.

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