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Creating Spanish/English Networks to Support Mental Health of Hispanic/Latinx Communities

  • May 26, 2023
  • Diversity News and Updates

By Jordan Brown

“You are an agent of change,” emphasized Tatiana Falcone, M.D., a panelist on the 2023 APA Annual Meeting session “Creating Spanish/English Networks to Support Mental Health of Hispanic/Latinx Communities.”

Younger attendees of the session pose with the presenters
The next generation of psychiatrists posing with the session presenters.

The session featured Ruby Castilla-Puentes, M.D., Tatiana Falcone, M.D., and Fernando Espi, M.D., as presenters and Esperanza Diaz, M.D., as the discussant. These psychiatrists have led the charge in their own unique way to impact and develop deeper connections within the Hispanic/Latinx communities, both locally and nationally.

Dr. Castilla-Puentes is a leader of WARMI International, a mental health community and collaborative network of mental health professionals working to improve mental health for women in Quechua-Aymara. With more than 682 members in 21 countries, they aim to improve communication between individuals working in women’s health in Latin America, serve as a point of contact for topics related to women’s mental health, and serve as a liaison to public and private agencies on research issues relevant to their target demographic. Their current and future projects include initiatives to address mental health among Indigenous populations, gender-focused psychotherapy, violence against women, and psychopharmacology with a focus on gender differences.

Dr. Falcone presented on her clinical work at the Cleveland Clinic which focuses on improving mental health care for Hispanic patients. Her highlighted study, StandUp Bullying Prevention, focuses on adolescent bullying. The pilot included 122 youth from a suburban high school: five with psychical disabilities, 16 with psychiatric diagnoses, and 18 with learning disabilities. The study had an even gender split, with participants ranging from 14-19 years old. These included 52 white-identifying youths, 63 minority youths, and six LGBTQ-identifying youths. Her work taught participants healthy coping mechanisms against bullying, skills for relating to others in healthy ways, and confidence in using healthy skills in difficult situations. She highlighted how, even after identifying the need for services, stigma persists against mental health care in the Hispanic/Latinx community. This stigma results in a lack of availability of care in available hours and locations, and a lack of follow through in patients for medication treatment.

Dr. Espi, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, shared his journey creating a Spanish-language, psychiatry-focused podcast for the Hispanic/Latinx community on ivoox, the most popular podcast streaming platform in Spain. Dr. Espi shared that there are only about 10 Spanish “psychopodcasts.” He emphasized, “No one is reading academic papers anymore. They are not accessible to the general population, but podcasts are!” His podcast El Ultimo Humanista had over one million downloads at the time of his lecture and is still growing. He addresses a range of psychiatric topics to raise mental health awareness, while also engaging listeners with a more personal outlet.

The three panelists showcased that it is more important to “go for what you love,” as Dr. Castilla-Puentes said, rather than trying to force oneself into a traditional approach. These examples of community organizing, clinical research and podcasting expanded imaginations on how one can impact their community, make a living and love what they do.

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