Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Empowering others and empowering ourselves : a case study of community health workers in a mental health project Public Deposited

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  • The Surgeon General of the United States in 2003 documented the existence of striking disparities for minorities and immigrants in mental health services and the underlying knowledge base. This thesis expands the knowledge base by examining the personal experiences and perspectives of community health workers (CHWs) employed in a mental health project. CHW interventions have been shown to increase access and reduce barriers to health care services. CHWs come from similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds as recipients of services and share similar life experiences. As cultural mediators between ethnic communities and a primary health care system, CHWs are able to provide valuable insight into immigrant mental health disparities. Through case study analysis, this thesis explores the personal experiences of CHWs employed by a grant-funded mental health project. Utilizing ethnographic research methods to better understand the CHW intervention, this thesis focuses on CHW motivations, their challenges and the impact of work on their personal lives. Results suggest that CHWs experienced many positive changes in their own lives as a result of their work. CHWs are better able to address their own physical and mental health needs. By increasing access to community and clinic services, CHWs help to improve the mental and physical health status of clients. Results suggest that the cultural competency of clinic staff, service providers and clients improved. CHWs help to strengthen community bonding or social capital by expanding social networks and empowering individuals to create change in their own lives.
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