This project will address the barriers of access to mental health services for Latinos on Vashon Island to create better mental health and well-being in the community. Comunidad Latina de Vashon (CLV) seeks to increase access to culturally and linguistically relevant mental health support and resources.
CLV will use the emerging practices of a culturally-based approach that centers indigenous/cultural skills and natural support systems-- factors that have been primarily responsible for ethnic minority group survival in the US. The model follows an original approach to wellness, seen before the professionalization of therapy, in which healers are integrated throughout the community and people experience healing relationships in multiple settings: their homes, their friendships, at celebrations and community gatherings. Mental health support and programming led by Latinos and guided by cultural healing approaches will give Latino families the opportunity to find solidarity, give voice to their experiences, unravel internalized oppression and regain agency in the presence of others who share their experiences and ethnic/racial background.
Each aspect of the program will look at mental health through a Latino, culturally aligned lens in order to destigmatize it, increase access, and promote wellness within the community.
The project will integrate culturally-aligned mental health support systems into the community with the following services
• Mental health equity promotor(as) training.
• Community wellness activities
• Pride-based curriculum
• “La Charla” therapy program
Puentes, CLV’s partner who specializes in culturally relevant mental health therapy, will train youth to be mental health equity promotor(as): lay Hispanic/Latino community members who receive specialized training to provide culturally-aligned health and equity education in the community without being professional health care workers. Promotor(as) will implement activities to increase organic support systems in youth on and off-island by finding common ground in each other’s experiences, and activating their collective power to identify and change the systemic stressors affecting their mental health. Wellness activities will incorporate mental health conversations into, for example, a youth photography group or economic development class for adults to promote belonging and hope. Pride-based curriculum will provide classes for children, youth and adults centered on Latino history and culture to promote pride and positive identity. Through the “La Charla” program, community members will connect one-on-one with a Puentes counselor in organic settings such as walks or shared meals; a culturally approachable version of more traditional therapy.
Comunidad Latina de Vashon
Comunidad Latina de Vashon (CLV) is a grassroots, community-based organization on Vashon Island; established in 2009, built with the power of our Latino
community, and born out of the collective desire for systems change. Their mission is to amplify community voice, activate families to self-advocate, and transform systems to improve quality of life for Latinos. CLV focuses on healing and deconstructing internalized oppression through belonging to community and thriving in cultural pride
and practices. Their current primary activities of leadership development trainings, culturally aligned mental health classes and activities, and systems change organizing have these goals in common.