Community-defined evidence practices in mental health wellness: in the Latino population of Oxnard and Ventura County

EditorialBy Armando Vazquez

A liberation manifesto to VCBH (Ventura County Mental Health Services



Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health Coalition


For the purposes of our own self determination, pills liberation and the wellness of our community a CDEP is defined as a set of bottom-up practices derived from a community’s ideas of illness and healing or positive attributes of culture or traditional practices. In addition, healing the practice has been used by the targeted community, which has determined it to yield positive results through community consensus. While some CDEPs may have been measured empirically, this is not necessary to show that there is a consensus in the community regarding its effectiveness.


A dirty (potentially negligent) little secret  about Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) is that it is doing an acutely dismal job of providing mental health services to Latinos, Blacks, and other special populations groups that reside in Ventura County. This has been a historical problem that has not been resolved by the county Board of Supervisors. Perhaps it is now time to pursue legal action against the VCBH and the County of Ventura.  We at Oxanrd Multicultural Mental Health (OMMH) Coalition believe that there is a strong class action lawsuit for injunctive relief based on a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the California State Constitution.

OMMH is of the legal opinion that we can clearly establish that the CVBH mental health services now being rendered are systemically negligent and illusory  to Latinos and other special population groups they are charged to serve. In the past I have likened VCBH to a glacier; huge, impenetrable, omnipotent, omnipresent, visible to everyone; yet it does absolutely nothing, and is almost never challenged. Until now! VCBH is the poster child for ineffective, negligent, tax payer money squandering local government; and those that are affected most by this negligence are the residents of Ventura County that most desperately need mental health services.

In the past OMMH and our community partners have made many sincere and professional overtures to provide a helping hand to VCBH; and with all the arrogance that a monopolistic despot can usher we have been, like a Kafka cockroach, rudely rebuked. VCBH, like so many of the County of Ventura departments, is incestuous and nepotistic closed shop. Only friends and peddlers of appropriate influence need apply. This is not the way the county should operate and below is what OMMH  has offered to share and provide  to VCBH  (more importantly the neglected Latino and other special populations of Ventura County) to address the negligent mental health department mess that they have created.

The Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health (OMMH) Coalition has worked diligently meeting at least once a week. It is providing 13 culturally and linguistically congruent community-defined and based practices and programs daily to our community companeras (os), for the past 5 years to specifically sponsor, seek out, design, incorporate and promote more specific culturally and linguistically congruent community defined mental health wellness practices and strategies,  and expand our discussion on the implementation of more effective community defined practices throughout greater Oxnard.

OMMH has held forums, presentations and workshops discussing how to address systemic change at the local/county level and beyond in terms of creating policy to support our acutely underserved special populations and create universal access in Oxnard and Ventura County. OMMH also provides timely meetings for local civic and government systems of mental health advocacy and care initiatives. OMMH also actively promotes mental health training and education, the collaboration of community CBO’s, exchanging of knowledge, and the sharing of community defined practices, programs and services to advance the development of more culturally and linguistically competent mental health delivery programs and systems for all 5 of our special population groups.

OMMH supports local community defined practices system of mental health care in our Oxnard community. It has hosted various community defined mental health practices networking meetings and seminars for community partners and individuals that are interested in working toward the improvement of current mental health delivery systems that have been historically, acutely ineffective in both population penetration and the delivery of quality services to our 5 special population groups. OMMH is currently collaborating with state, county and local affiliate organizations to increase knowledge, awareness and education that integrate community defined practices with traditional mental health services to maximize mental health wellness efficacy in Oxnard and Ventura County.

OMMH believes that Cultural- Linguistic Congruent Mental Health Wellness is inextricably linked to understanding and respecting cultural identity as the foundation of well-being for individuals, families, communities. OMMH believes that Cultural- Linguistic Congruent Mental Health Wellness community defined practices are the bases for “transformational healing” that speaks directly to the unique and nuanced mental illness or “malestar” and the strengths and resiliency of the Chicano/Latino population as it grapples with mental health wellness as it is currently defined/exists.

OMMH values, recognizes, and appreciates the uniqueness and diversity of all individuals. Our commitment is to create an environment where all people feel respected, welcomed and loved. We recognize the right of human beings to be treated with dignity and respect. We are dedicated to enhancing cultural sensitivity and cultural competency in all of community mental health community promotores work. This transformational cultural healing awareness promotes and strengthens mental health wellness by working within the identity culture (soul/spirit/sacred) of the client and not of the traditional institutional (profane) model. This radical departure from the normative mental health delivery paradigm is at the heart of our community defined practices philosophy. We, the special populations community of Oxnard are the clients/healers; providing community defined mental health wellness practices services and programs to (we) the client (s) that are affected; and we are simultaneously curandero(a) healing ourselves. This transformational healing liberates us as we proclaim self-determination in our pursuit of our own mental health wellness.

OMMH currently has 13 culturally based practices and initiatives that we provide to all residents, and specifically target the 5 special populations of Oxnard; OMMH and it community partners utilize a balance of traditional and cultural practices with culturally sensitive Western based services that have proven to be effective in creating a user-friendly bridge between traditional and community defined practices that can uniquely reach and transform a youth, adults, and, families overall mental health wellness.

We have much to offer the County of Ventura, as we have been doing for our community of Oxnard for over two decades. The time has come for the county of Ventura to discard the closed shop nepotism, obsolete and ineffective institutional façade, the squandering of countless millions of local tax funds and negligent disrespect that the county has leveled on the Latino and other special population groups of Ventura County.  OMMH is demanding inclusion!



Armando Vazquez, Chairman, The Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health (OMMH) Coalition Executive Director Acuna Art Gallery & Community Center/ Café on A

One Response to Community-defined evidence practices in mental health wellness: in the Latino population of Oxnard and Ventura County

  1. William "Bill" Hicks October 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Consider how the attention on violence, particularly with firearms, has been simplicitly centered on the inanimate gun instead of the person of violence. Then consider the possibility that all the political effort in that direction has been an excuse for not addressing the mental illness that is a cause for such violence.


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