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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics
Mercerville, New Jersey

Start Date

Brief Description
Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics is a program of The New Jersey Mental Health Institute, Inc. (NJMHI). The goal of the program is to address the nationwide lack of quality mental health services for Hispanics. The program has engaged in research, training, and information dissemination with the goal of raising awareness, acceptance, and understanding of mental illness among the Hispanic population. The program also has sponsored activities to increase the knowledge of mental health agency administrators and direct care service providers on how to meet the needs of Hispanics in mental health programs.

Based on 2005 data from the Census Bureau, approximately 41 million people living in the United States are of Hispanic origin. As noted in several Federal reports, Hispanics tend to underutilize mental health services. This happens for many different reasons including fear, lack of understanding of mental illness, and language barriers. Research stresses the need for system-wide changes that will lead to quality mental health services for the Hispanic population.

In 2001, NJMHI formed Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics to address the mental health needs of the ever-growing Hispanic population. Its activities focus on changing the mental health delivery system, providing guidelines for reaching Hispanics, and sharing information via newsletters, trainings, and public education campaigns.

The public education campaign launched by the program consisted of the creation and distribution of three English- and Spanish-language components, including a 60-second public service announcement (PSA) for television, educational brochures related to mental health entitled "Mental Health, Learn the Facts," posters supporting the message of the PSA entitled Depression Is a Common Illness, and fact sheets entitled Facts From Professional Literature.

Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics has helped to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and the need for better mental health care for Hispanics by providing information to professionals and the general public. It also has garnered national and international recognition for its work in promoting mental health among Hispanics. In response to the programs success, NJMHI has begun to package the programs materials, including reports and publication education materials, into a toolkit entitled Enhancing Mental Health Services for Hispanics that can be used by other agencies to implement similar programs.

For further information about this program, contact Henry Acosta, M.A., M.S.W., L.S.W., NJMHI Deputy Director, and Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics Project Director, phone: 609-838-5488, ext. 205; fax: 609-838-5480, e-mail:, Web site:


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.