$1.9 million Fresno State grant addresses behavioral health among Latino, Hmong communities

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno State received a nearly $2 million grant to address behavioral health among two very large demographics in the Central Valley: LatinoX and Hmong.

Nineteen Fresno State social work students are getting hands on experience and a deeper knowledge of them, thanks to a $1.9 million grant funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Professor Dr. Iran Barrera says learning about cultural differences can make an impact in the overall healthcare provided to many families.

"With my background and research, we look at the cultural elements that lead to over diagnosis or under that lead to many health care disparities among these 2 populations," said Dr. Iran Barrera, Chair of the Department of Social Work Education.

He shares his personal experience as an example of what many LatinX families live through.

"I didn't hear the word depression or anxiety until I was in my 20s and after three courses, so our communities don't speak about terminology in that way," said Barrera.

In Fresno County, 50.3% of the population is LatinX and 9.3% is Asian/Pacific Islander.

Barrera says the students will complete a one-year placement throughout the Valley in schools, community health centers, hospitals and behavioral health clinics where those populations are prevalent in addition to their courses.

"They take the Latino curriculum in the fall and the Hmong in the spring," he said.

Each student is receiving a $10,000 training stipend during the course of their two-year Master of Social Work program.

An overall opportunity student Elva Fuentes believes is preparing her to better serve the rural communities she dreams of helping.

"Being Latina myself, I am excited to learn more about my culture and the Hmong culture to really provide a service," said Elva Fuentes.

The project is expected to train up to 76 graduate social work students in the next four years.
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