Margarita Alegria and Minority Substance Abuse

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With Betty Ford’s passing, we are again reminded that there is a great deal of work to be done in the field of alcohol and substance abuse. Margarita Alegria, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research and full professor at Harvard University’s Medical School in psychiatry. In her work she examines the disparity between mental-health and substance-abuse care. Another focus of her work is to improve access, equity, and the quality of these services for minority populations.

When recently interviewed in the Boston Globe, she was asked about the provision of mental-health and substance-abuse services for minorities and said, “The biggest issue by far is access. Policies make it very difficult for people to access mental health or substance abuse care. [Also,] the issue of low medicaid payments to providers. The workforce issue. There’s still a lot of worry about your employer finding out you might be going to a mental-health provider or substance-abuse provider. If we had mechanisms in place where people could call during their lunch hour, that would make it a lot easier.”

Dr. Alegria’s research interests can be viewed in detail at National Hispanic Science Network website.

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