February 22, 2021
Founded in 1986, NCC is grounded in the belief affirming that health care is a basic right for all people. Our mission is to provide accessible, quality out-patient behavioral health services for all persons seeking counseling without regard to financial means, socioeconomic or immigration status, race, sexual identity, background, or religious belief.
More than 12% of Oregon’s population is Latinx, which is a striking 74% increase in the past 15 years. The growing Latinx population has limited, if any, access to linguistically and culturally competent mental health care. The disparities are particularly stark in the immigrant community, where at least 42% are uninsured. If lucky enough to get care at all, it is likely to be inadequate: studies show people are better able to remember and recount trauma in their native tongue with someone who understands the cultural context.
As a response, NCC has launched the Levantar Program. Levantar, meaning to stand or to rise up in Spanish, brings culturally and linguistically tailored mental health care to Portland’s Latinx community.
The program is particularly critical for those without resources or money, or who have immigration or legal barriers to care, allowing them access to vital and life-saving mental health services. This program will serve all Latinx in need, but also use the established and trusted nonprofits and parish communities to help educate around and encourage mental health treatment, particularly for people who are fearful about accessing outside help due to the inflammatory and hateful rhetoric around immigration, race, and citizenship.
Funders agree this program is a necessity; with grants from the Hilton Fund for Sisters, Providence Health & Services, the Archdiocese of Portland’s Rice Bowl Small Grants Program, and the Oregon Community Foundation, NCC has translated client forms, created new office space, and begun providing counseling services. Two bilingual and culturally competent clinicians are currently serving Latinx clients. They carry additional identities and skills as well: one is an immigrant from Cuba with a background in education, and one has extensive experience with the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Simply hiring Spanish-speaking therapists is not adequate to provide the depth and breadth of support needed for Latinx clients, nor will it overcome the underlying structural and cultural barriers keeping Latinx from accessing quality, appropriate mental health care. NCC has spent the last three years meeting with partners and planning with healthcare providers, universities, other nonprofits, Catholic parishes, and social service providers.
Levantar is a long-term commitment to a valuable and growing segment of our community. Moving through this year into next, NCC is writing grants, talking to businesses, and working with partners to find more resources to add therapist time, and to hire a program director and administrative support. Email [email protected] for more information or to get involved!