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Media Advisory/Press Release

Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology
Receives Donation from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation
For Lucero Latino Mental Health Program - One of First in U.S.

January 12, 2012–Boston (West Roxbury), MA–The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) is the recipient of a recent $3,000 grant from Culture InSight, an operating program of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation in support of its Lucero Latino Mental Health program. The program is one of the first in the United States, and the only program in New England, designed to train Latino and non-Latino psychologists to develop Spanish and cultural competency in caring for the Latino population. “We are grateful for this gift. The need for mental health professionals specifically trained to provide services for the complex mental health needs of Latinos has reached a crucial point,” stated Dr. Nicholas Covino, President of MSPP.

According to Shani Dowd, Director of Culture Insight at the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation, the program is proud to support initiatives that target ethnic minority communities. “We do what we can to support innovations like the Lucero program—the growing diversity of our region’s population makes it that much more important to teach techniques to improve relationships across differences, gather clinically relevant cultural information and learn to appreciate the dynamics. Together, we are working to end disparities in health care.”

In the United States approximately one in every eight individuals is Latino. It is estimated that this number will become one quarter of the population by 2050. Among those who are able to access mental health services, most fail to return after the first visit due to the lack of ‘cultural fit’. With Latino psychologists comprising less than two percent of the nation’s psychologists, the need for professionals who can competently treat mental health problems in this population is already critical and will become more severe over the next five years.

Covino explains that while an obvious need to communicate effectively is important in mental health treatment, it also demands a higher and more sophisticated use of language fluency and knowledge of culture than physical medical care treatment. “Because of the stigma attached to mental illness in many cultures and the sensitive nature of the therapeutic relationship, using interpreter services has not been effective,” he says, adding that research has shown patients are more likely to continue and benefit from therapy when the therapist speaks and understands the nuances of their language and displays sensitivity to their culture.

MSPP students in the Lucero Latino Mental Health program participate in two intensive full summer immersion experiences in various Latin American settings, including volunteer mental health work, and have extensive clinical training in field placements to enhance student sensitivity to specific mental health needs of Latinos.

The Lucero Latino Mental Health program was inspired by the late Dr. Cynthia Lucero, a graduate of MSPP who focused her career on the mental health needs of Spanish speaking communities. Dr. Lucero collapsed while running the 2002 Boston marathon and died. The program is dedicated in her honor and seeks to promote the well being of Latinos in the United States and abroad.

Culture InSight, an operating program of the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation, provides cultural competency training to health and human service professionals and organizations throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

About MSPP—Founded in 1974 as an independent graduate school of psychology, MSPP provides unique training programs for mental health professionals at the doctoral, master’s and certificate level, each designed to immerse students in both academic study and real-life clinical experience. Constantly assessing and evolving to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and diverse society, MSPP currently offers programs to train highly skilled professionals to care for Latinos, veterans, children and adolescents and families in a variety of settings, including the schools, the courts, the community and the workplace, among others.

About The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation—Created in 1980, The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation supports Harvard Pilgrim's mission to improve the health of the people it serves and the health of society. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation provides the tools, training and leadership to help build healthy communities throughout New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. For more information, please visit

Updated 1/12/12

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