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TVHC Attends NatCon, Emphasizes the Importance of Integrated Care for Health Equity

On May 2nd, Dr. Jessica Apfel, Director of Behavioral Health, and Monica Zuniga, Mental Health Specialist, both esteemed leaders in our Behavioral Health department, delivered a compelling presentation at NatCon 23 in Los Angeles, passionately advocating for equity in mental health services.

They seized the opportunity to showcase and emphasize TVHC’s impactful work within the Behavioral Health department alongside Dr. Rochelle Head-Dunham of the Metropolitan Human Services District, and moderator Dr. Pierluigi Mancini of the Multicultural Development Institute.

During their presentation titled “Integrated Care is Essential to Ensure Health Equity; One Cannot Exist Without the Other,” Dr. Apfel and Zuniga shed light on the challenges communities of color face regarding access to mental health services. They stressed the urgent need for more organizations to transition towards integrated health systems.

Highlighting the impact of systemic racism, oppression, and the historically segregated health system, they underscored how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color continue to bear disproportionate burdens in accessing mental health services.

With the nation’s shift towards more integrated and value-based health systems, health providers strive to promote health equity, ensuring all clients receive person-centered care tailored to their needs.

Dr. Apfel went on discuss TVHC’s current model of care that prioritizes comprehensive, integrated care by not only offering vital services but also by actively reaching out to patients, identifying gaps in their care, and guiding them to other programs or services – including Behavioral Health, to ensure their needs are fully met.​

Dr. Apfel discussed another critical component to health equity – a multicultural and linguistically appropriate approach to care, a model TVHC and fellow community health centers have been practicing for over 50 years.

“To achieve the goal of health equity in the mental health space,” she emphasized, “more organizations must enhance their culturally and linguistically responsive practices while actively working to reduce unwarranted biases, racism, and trauma.”

NatCon 23, an annual behavioral health conference, serves as a platform where mental health professionals, policymakers, and advocates gather to discuss best practices and advancements in behavioral health. TVHC’s presence and advocacy furthered the conversation on the pressing need for equity in mental health services.

To learn more about TVHC’s different approaches to mental health services, click here.

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