Paso del Norte Foundation Partners with U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Training Initiative


The Paso del Norte Foundation was proud to partner with the U.S.-México Border Health Commission (BHC) over the last six months implementing a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Train the Trainers program for Promotores de Salud along the U.S.-Mexico border.  The training was based on the Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) Intervention Guide for mental, neurological and substance use disorders in non-specialized health settings developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), adapted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) and facilitated with support from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  The two-day workshops, conducted in partnership with 9 local nonprofit organizations with over 250 participants, focused on community and substance use disorders in non-specialized health settings and provided community health workers basic training in mental health screening and referrals. The training also included how to monitor and follow up with people with mental illness and their families.


Jose Velasco, Executive Director of the BHC’s U.S. Section, said that the “train-the-trainer model is an excellent way to deliver information and resources to promotores de salud working with individuals and families at the local level.  It also strengthens a valuable network of trained health professionals vital to the health of our border communities.”  The mGAP training program for promotores de salud is part of the BHC/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) priorities and initiatives focused on improving healthcare information and delivery in the border region.  The BHC was founded in July 2000 through an international agreement signed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services of the United States and the Secretary of Health of México. The Commission is composed of the federal secretaries of health, the chief health officers of the ten binational border states, and prominent community health professionals from both nations. The BHC has the unique opportunity to bring together the two countries and their border states to address border health challenges by providing the necessary leadership to develop coordinated and binational actions that can improve the health and quality of life of all border residents.