Philly conference explores diversity in mental health

    How do culture and ethnicity relate to successful mental health treatments? Over 300 mental health professionals will discuss this question during a conference this weekend.

    Hosted by the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the diversity conference addresses the role of religious beliefs in the treatment of veterans, as well as mental illness and stigma in African American communities.

    Psychologist Yuma Tomes of the College of Osteopathic Medicine helped organize the conference. He says Latino communities will be another focus point.

    “What are particular services that have worked well within the Latino population and Latino culture?” explained Tomes. “What more do we need to understand and how can we begin to craft programs that will better serve and address those particular concerns that they bring forth?”

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    Tomes says this kind of training is important since the mental health field is very homogenous.

    “We probably see about 85 percent of psychologists and about 90 percent of psychiatrists who are European American,” said Tomes. “We have not done a great enough job in reference of recruiting people of color into the field.”

    Tomes hopes that conferences like this one will help attract people from different backgrounds to join the mental health field.

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