Document Type

Capstone Project (Campus-Only Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Health, Human Services and Public Policy

First Advisor

Esmerada Maldonado


Monterey County Behavioral Health’s Adult System of Care (ASOC) serves adults with serious mental illnesses. In Monterey County, 75% of individuals who receive MediCal are Latinx; however, only 45% of ASOC clients are Latinx. This disparity suggests a lack of culturally responsive care, either concerning language or ethnic match between staff and client, might lead to undeserving Latinx people in Monterey County. The present research explored the hypothesis that mental health clients want and would find mental health professionals who share their same ethnicity the most helpful and desirable. Eleven adult panelists from the Success Over Stigma program, who speak to the community about living and thriving with mental illness, participated in a 45-minute structured interview. Findings did not support the hypothesis; when asked if they could “go back in time” and choose one characteristic of their mental health professional, 66% of participants chose based on the professional’s work or lived experience; the remaining 34% of participants chose based on gender. No participants, either as a first or second choice, chose race/ethnicity as how they would select a mental health professional. Answers to open-ended questions further clarified that by lived and work experience, participants wanted providers who listened, were curious and shared a little about their challenges. Thus, findings suggest, and it has been recommended to MCBH, to increase training related to role boundaries and the need, particularly with Latinx clients, to help providers develop more authentic relationships with clients.

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