The National Latino Behavioral Health Association (NLBHA) was established to fill a need for a unified national voice for Latino populations in the behavioral health arena and to bring attention to the great disparities that exist in areas of access, utilization, practice based research and adequately trained personnel.
In March of 2000, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) and its Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) acknowledged the growing mental health service needs of a rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino community by sponsoring a National Congress for Hispanic Mental Health. SAMHSA determined that services must be more accessible, appropriate, and responsive to the needs of the Latino Community and declared the need for a plan to serve as an heirloom for the next generation. The aim of the Hispanic Congress was to create a vision for Latino mental health for the new century. The conference brought together national Latino leaders in behavioral health research and services, advocates and consumers/family members to define critical issues in behavioral services to Latinos. As its' top priority the group recommended the need for a single voice to address the mental health and substance abuse issues facing the Latino community. In September of 2000 a Steering Committee of the National Congress met in Los Angeles, California and officially formed the National Latino Behavioral Health Association (NLBHA). NLBHA received its' 501(c ) (3) status in 2002.