Mental health response to Spanish-speaking telephone callers: Secret shopper study
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Our past information-gathering on public mental health agencies in Jackson County, Missouri identified 12 agencies who reported providing Spanish-language mental health services. To look more closely at these agencies' capacity, we collaborated with community members whose primary language was Spanish, who we trained as "secret shopper" callers. These callers used a brief, structured telephone procedure to request information in Spanish regarding mental illnesses and access to care. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Callers rated two-thirds of agency responses as good or very good. One-fourth of the calls yielded poor results, with calls not returned or inappropriate information provided. Inconsistent information provided to callers and unreturned voicemails indicated needs for increased staff training and consideration of access from the consumers' perspective. Our organization should continue to develop technical assistance, to increase awareness and consistency of mental health agencies' response to consumers who do not use English as their primary language.