Creating a Front Porch: Strategies for Improving Access to Mental Health Services

Authors: Callejas, L.M., Nesman, T, Mowery, D, Hernandez, M
Publication Year: 2008
Last Updated: 2016-01-28 12:36:03
Journal: NA
Keywords: Organizational Development,Cultural competence, systems of care, access, disparities, Culture, children's mental health, assessment, interviews

Short Abstract:

This monograph shares results of interviews conducted with personnel from selected organizations and focuses on key practices that were reported to increase accessibility of mental health services for underserved populations. It includes a description of each of the target populations served by the participating study sites, as well as information about the history and context of, and general service delivery information for each organization.


Access is a first step toward receiving needed mental health services and can be seen as the front porch of services where people can be linked to services without being identified as a client. As on welcoming front porches in communities throughout this country, people feel comfortable spending time together, listening and learning, and building relationships of trust. In these intimate community gathering places, communication often crosses cultural, linguistic, and other barriers.

Creating a front porch for mental health requires organizational commitment to the implementation of policies and practices such as flexible funding, increased human resources, and family support that do not depend on billable hours.

This monograph identifies strategies to increase access as part of a broader conceptual model that addresses the community context in which services are delivered, the characteristics of populations served, and the overall organizational infrastructure through which services are delivered. Access strategies were identified through interviews conducted with personnel from selected organizations that met criteria for providing culturally competent services and supports for racially/ethnically diverse children and families. This monograph is part of a series of monographs outlining successful strategies for increasing Access, Availability, and Utilization of services at the organizational and direct service levels.

The findings presented in this monograph were derived from a larger study (Research and Training Center for Childrens Mental Health, 2004) that focused on identifying organizational practices used to improve access to mental health services and reduce disparities. For the larger study, a review of child and family mental health research literature was conducted that identified strategies that direct service personnel have used successfully to increase access to mental health services for diverse children and their families (Hernandez, et al., 2006). A review of cultural competence assessment measures was also conducted to determine: (1) how results of such measures have been used to improve services; (2) the effectiveness of existing protocols used to measure cultural competence; and (3) whether cultural competence does indeed lead to improved mental health outcomes for ethnically and racially diverse populations (Harper, Hernandez, Nesman, Mowery, Worthington, & Isaacs, 2006).

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