Staff Profile: Ybarra Promotes Cultural Competence
June 1, 2009
By Elisabeth Kristof
During his 20-year career, Program Officer Rick Ybarra has played an increasingly influential role in advancing culturally and linguistically diverse mental health services at national, state and local levels.
Since 2007, Ybarra has applied his extensive knowledge and experience to lead the Hogg Foundation's initiative to promote cultural and linguistic competency of mental health services in Texas.
Ybarra manages a three-year, $3 million grant program adapting evidence-based practices in the delivery of mental health services for Hispanic and African American communities across Texas. He directs the foundation's three-year, $1 million scholarship program for bilingual students pursuing a graduate degree in social work at Texas universities. Most recently, he is researching curricula and models for cultural competency training of mental health professionals in Texas.
"The work I do with the foundation is rewarding in many ways, from the real-life stories of consumers, youth and families receiving services through our grant programs, to the students who are awarded scholarships," Ybarra said. "It is satisfying to hear how their lives have been transformed in a positive way."
Before joining the foundation, Ybarra was director of diversity initiatives for the Maricopa County Regional Behavioral Health Authority in Arizona from 2004 to 2007. From
1997 to 2003, he was director of multicultural services for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Prior to that, he held multiple clinical and management positions across the Texas mental health system.
He has a master's degree in clinical psychology and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Saint Mary's University in San Antonio.
"As a trained clinician and administrator in mental health settings, I came to realize that services must be provided in different ways to effectively serve culturally and linguistically diverse communities," said Ybarra. "It goes beyond providing the service in the person's preferred language -- it's also about understanding and respecting the person's world view."
Ybarra said establishing policies, promoting promising programs and blending traditional approaches with state-of-the-art research on effective practices will move Texas toward meeting the mental health needs of multicultural and linguistically diverse communities in a strategic, engaging and respectful manner.
"Continuing to be innovative, recognizing and embracing diversity as a strength, and staying true to the foundation's mission to promote and improve mental health policy, research and education will lead to better mental health for all Texans," he said.