SWITCHBOARD’S APPROACH TO MENTAL HEALTH AND CULTURALLY DIVERSE POPULATIONS
Since 1968, Switchboard has been providing services to a culturally diverse population, in Miami, around the country, and even internationally. Very often, clients accessing our agency’s services come from different countries, backgrounds, religion, and socio-economic statuses. Our Helpline Counselors assist people in English, Spanish, Creole-Haitian and other languages as well. Our main focus is to create a safe environment for clients to feel welcomed and to open up about issues affecting their lives.
Many years ago, professionals practicing mental health in the United States served an ethnically uniform population, where variations in education and earning power were the major differences amongst clients. Due to an increase in globalization, the demographics of mental health clientele in America has changed immensely, adding individuals that have experienced a variety of emergency and crisis situations uncommon in America, such as political refugees and undocumented and documented immigrants. In the past, Switchboard’s Helpline counselors responded to immediate crisis worked with a uniform approach to response. Today, Switchboard uses a culturally sensitive approach that includes training its counselors in delivering a sensible exchange when obtaining and providing information, referral and support to those in need.
Whenever possible, clients are linked with services and resources through a community center relative to their culture of origin. Taking into consideration that many people are busy during the day and limited in their time, counselors always invite callers to place a “call back” if needed. Furthermore, when requested and upon availability, Switchboard accommodates callers based on their preference, enabling them to choose between speaking with a male or female counselor, if it makes them feel more comfortable in discussing sensitive issues.
Switchboard services are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. If you or someone you know is in need of support, or going thru a crisis situation please, give us a call at: 305.358.4357(HELP) or 2-1-1.
Ref.: Anthony J. Marsella, PhD. APA, Psychology International, October 2011