For the past two years, FIRM has partnered with Asian and Pacific Islander leaders from around the state in the “California Reducing Disparities Project.” The project is funded through the Mental Health Services Act. FIRM and partners have been working to review the levels of health disparities within refugee and other Asian communities, evaluate promising models for culturally competent health and mental health care, and conduct focus groups for grass roots input to improve care. Professional skills provided by culturally knowledgeable staff who speak languages of communities served were noted as especially effective. Programs that effectively use multi-language media, offer advocacy and community organizing support, and use culturally relevant skills (such as community gardens) were also highly valued.
After participating in multiple statewide and regional gatherings, FIRM attended its final Central Valley meeting of the project last week in Stockton. (See picture.) Regional colleagues include the Hmong Health Collaborative Coordinator, Susan Vang, along with partners from Fresno Center for New Americans, Merced and Stockton Lao Family organizations, Healthy House in Merced, and Southeast Asian Assistance Center and Hmong Women’s Heritage organizations in Sacramento.
A full 200 page report of the project is currently being drafted, and is expected to be published and made available online in early 2012. It will include focus group findings, and evaluations and contacts of promising programs throughout the state—including FIRM’s Therapeutic Horticulture Project!