Celebrating Hispanic Heritage and National Recovery Month – Ana Aldana-Urquijo, LMSW, Outpatient Clinician


Dale Jones just switching studios here for our conversation this morning with Ana Aldana. She’s with the McCall Behavioral Health Network. Ana, good morning. Thanks for joining us on the program.

Good morning, Dale. Thanks for having me.

How long, you’re a clinical social worker with the folks at McCall. Can I ask how long you’ve been with McCall?

I started as an intern, so if you count the internship, I’ve been there for about a year.

Okay, well I’m sure you enjoy your work there and you’ve got an important role as a clinical worker there because what we’re talking about today has to do with Recovery Month, which is September. It’s also Hispanic Heritage Month. And we want to talk a little bit about how they intersect here. And we’ve had conversations with the folks from McCall about the unique challenges for the Hispanic community. Does it start with language? Is that a good place to begin?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, we know there are a lot of barriers to accessing services in general, but we see that there’s a lot more barriers for the Hispanic population. And you know, one of those reasons is, is language, but there’s a lot more to it. You know, we’re working on reframing the stigma regarding their internalized stigmas and their cultural stigmas, and we want to make them feel safe and accepted by also pointing them towards the resources they can access.

Let’s talk about that stigma. What, you know, is there something cultural here that has folks who may be in the battle from the Hispanic community from reaching out and seeking help?


Well, yeah. I mean, language is the main barrier, but there’s also other things in the mix like, you know, folks that are undocumented and don’t have access to health insurance. So, you know, a lot of the times these services aren’t affordable to them, but at the McCall Center, at the McCall Behavioral Health Foundation, we actually offer payment plans and options for them to come and still get these services with us.

Now, I imagine you are bilingual, obviously, in your role you would need to be, correct? Yes, I am. I would imagine that is a great way to open doors. Let’s talk about people who come in and they know they need help and let’s go through the conversation. How does this begin and do people even realize why they’re stuck when they first come in and try to get some help?

Yeah, so stuck is a great way to put it. A lot of these people come in and they don’t even know they’re stuck. So what we do is we start with showing them what it looks like and what it feels like and when I say that I mean what mental health problems look like or what substance use issues look like. So I mean I’ve had clients come in not knowing that a change needs to be made so by helping them understand like what that depression trauma feels like in their body it helps them understand and learn the language of their mental health and start to, you know, they feel that they can be more vulnerable and begin to heal. And this is especially important in the Hispanic culture where mental health and substance use has been a taboo to speak about.

Well, it is in the broader culture as well, but I think when people come in, obviously, they know when they reach out to you, they know something is wrong. But it sounds like they’re not really sure how to get on a path to try to address it.

Exactly, yes.

When we talk about Hispanic Heritage Month, is this a good time to highlight that heritage and also hopefully to draw people out a little bit as we celebrate that heritage and say, you know, this is a time to break through those stereotypes and seek the help that you need. Is this a, has this been a good month to take a step in that direction?

I think so, Dale. I think you put it great.

Our guest this morning, if you’re just joining us, is Anna Aldana. She’s a clinical social worker with the McCall Behavioral Health Network. I want to talk a little bit about some of the other more practical barriers that may get in the way of folks getting help. You talked about perhaps someone coming in seeking help and they’re undocumented. So, you know, paperwork can be a problem. I’ve got a friend who was trying to help someone who was trying to, they were ready to go back to, return to the workforce. But because they had a driver’s license suspension in another state, they couldn’t get a job because they didn’t have a driver’s license for identification and the red tape was in the way because it’s from another state. So they were having a hard time breaking through that. Do you encounter that sort of thing as well with folks who come out and seek help?

Yeah, I mean, a lot of the people, you know, that are undocumented don’t have those identification documents that they need to access, you know, more resources available in the community.

So does McCall then network with some of the folks who can help get through this backlog and try to find a way forward? Is that part of what you do?

Well, we have case management services that can, you know, help them navigate those systems. And, you know, we’re connected with the communities we work in, and we always can link our clients to the resources they need.

When you talk with clients and they begin to face whatever their challenge is with substance, do you find that, again, that language barrier? Trying to get that, you need to build a sense of trust. And I imagine language is key to that because you need to understand where they’re coming from and you need to convey to them how you want to help them move forward. How long does that take and does it vary client to client on getting that breakthrough and getting them down that path?

Well I’ve had clients who are primarily Spanish-speaking who have, you know, had other services only in English and you know they’re very happy to have these services in Spanish and I think that helps build rapport a lot quicker because they know not only do I understand them linguistically but I understand them culturally as well. That’s key.

That’s exactly the point I was looking for. Ana Aldana is our guest this morning. She’s a clinical social worker with the McCall Behavioral Health Network. We’re in Recovery Month. It’s Hispanic Heritage Month. Anna, as we begin to wind down our time together here, any last words or message to reach out to the Hispanic community for those who are on the cusp and know it’s time to seek help?

Yeah, I just want to highlight the importance of being able to talk as a community about how it is a strength to ask for help. It’s a strength to be vulnerable and do the healing work of recovery. If we can shift our attitudes and truly celebrate, you know, recovery and Hispanic Heritage Month together, we can see a big change happen. If you or someone you care about might be stuck, please call our main number, 860-496-2100, and we’ll help you out.

And just one more thing before we let you go, because word got through to us that today is also your birthday So we’re going to put you on the spot on behalf of all of your friends in McCall behavioral health network And those of us here at WCBG a very happy birthday, and thank you so much for being our guest today. Thank you so much Dale. Have a good day. You as well Anna. Have a great day I put her on the spot there a little bit. Anna Aldana, our guest. Once a month we have a visit with the folks from the McCall Behavioral Health Network and coming back with your local news next.