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Closing the Gap

Windsor's Latino Service Providers aims to engage Latinx community on mental health issues

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Latino Service Providers (LSP) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 to provide access to information and opportunities for engaging our Latinx community. LSP's mission is to be a bridge across generations for the Latinx community focusing on health and social issues. We do this by developing youth leaders, building awareness and connections to community services and advocating for equity across race and ethnicity. Our vision is that our Sonoma County Latinx community has equitable opportunities to lead healthy, resilient and connected lives. We implement our mission and vision in various ways to engage and seek to connect and collaborate with all community members of Sonoma County.

The growing Latinx population residing in the United States and the corresponding growth in Sonoma County brings great diversity and new opportunities to the county. Working collaboratively to close the achievement gap, reduce stigma around mental health and provide awareness of tools and resources to the Latinx population in Sonoma County helps identify and overcome current obstacles that contribute to the ever-growing disparities in educational and economic achievement, civic engagement and access to healthcare and mental health services.

LSP's focus on mental health is an important part of the organization's work because of the disparities that exist in access to mental health services for our Latinx population in Sonoma County. Though Latinxs experience the same prevalence of mental health conditions when compared to the rest of the population, we access services at a lower rate than the rest of the population. In response to this disparity, LSP developed an internship program open to 39 students in Sonoma County. The students, known as Youth Promotores (Youth Community Health Workers), engage their peers, family, friends and community in conversation, workshops and/or presentations on mental health. The goal of the project is to not only engage and educate the Latinx community on mental health issues, but to also help diversify our future health workforce of Sonoma County.

To learn more about Latino Service Providers or to become a member, please visit latinoserviceproviders.org.

Guadalupe Navarro is executive director of Latino Service Providers in Windsor. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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