“This inequality in mental health services puts these communities at a higher risk for more serious and persistent forms of mental health problems, because without treatment, mental health problems often worsen,” said a counseling professor. . Heather Trepal who is part of a team of UTSA professors within the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) who runs the bilingual counseling certificate training program.
There are currently around 70 mental health training programs across the country. UTSA is one of only four programs fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) that offers a specialized bilingual counseling training program for school counselors and mental health clinics.
According to the National Alliance for Mental Health in 2015, about half of Latino millennials have not received mental health care. Barriers to mental health care worsened during the pandemic. It is now estimated that about six in ten Hispanic adults with reported mental health issues have not received treatment.
Participants seeking the UTSA 12-Hour Bilingual Counseling Certificate must pass a Spanish language assessment, complete two courses from the bicultural bilingual department with a focus on culture and counseling skills, and complete fieldwork in mental health in Spanish, including supervised counseling sessions with Spanish speaking clients. . The program offers language assessments and remedial programs to help students strengthen their communication skills in Spanish.
Assistant professor Claudia Interiano-Shiverdecker, who co-leads the Bilingual Counseling Certificate program and teaches one of the required mental health courses in Spanish, teaches students how to best deal with culture and language when counseling the Latin American community .
“How do you translate ‘take care of yourself’? This idea doesn’t translate very well in Spanish, ”said Interiano-Shiverdecker. “We make sure to build on concepts that resonate with the Latino community. “
The UTSA Bilingual Counseling Certificate is part of a strong mental health curriculum at the university. UTSA currently offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs for those entering mental health fields, including those who wish to serve elementary and secondary schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were an estimated 5 million bilingual learners in the U.S. public school system last year alone, but there is a shortage of bilingual school psychologists. UTSA addresses this shortage by providing a pool of well-trained mental health professionals to meet the needs of K-12 students.
UTSA’s counseling department provided training during the most difficult times for the community. In 2017, the department received nearly $ 2 million to create a program and services to address the mental health needs of survivors of the Sutherland Springs Church shooting. Derek robertson, associate professor in the department and co-leader of the bilingual counseling certificate program, helped design the training. He was also an early adopter of virtual sessions, offering this resource before it became the standard method of care for many departments today.
“For members of small communities, they tend to be embarrassed because mental health is seen as a stigma,” Robertson explained. “Virtual sessions allow more privacy and immediate care.”