Sabiduría Updates | School of Graduate Psychology
Nationwide the Latinx community has and continues to experience significant health and mental health disparities, mostly due to systemic, structural and cultural barriers and inadequate, oppressive and unjust systems. This has resulted in the Latinx community being impacted disproportionately — not seeking health care and mental health treatment due to historical oppression and significant barriers. Additionally, racial injustices, police brutality, oppressive and anti-immigrant policies, anti-blackness, along with colonial mentalities and systems that are not designed to account for racial differences, continue benefiting those who created the systems in the first place and continue to oppress BIPOC communities.
Since the transition of Sabiduría from a bilingual track to an emphasis in 2015, the School of Graduate Psychology's Sabiduría has focused the work of students and faculty to support the emotional health and wellbeing of the Latinx community and to help remove barriers to mental health care access. This has been done mostly through outreach efforts as the mission has been to bring mental health education and services to the community. Even though the work may be limited, our efforts have not stopped. Since the global pandemic struck, Sabiduría has moved all outreach activities to distance delivery options, giving students and faculty not only the opportunity to work with the local community, but also to support other parts of the country and Latin America as well.
I want to share some of the activities and ongoing efforts the Sabiduría team has recently been engaged in to help support the mental health of the Latinx community in Oregon affected both by COVID-19 and the recent sociopolitical climate as well as plans for continuing this work. It is important to recognize these psychology students' amazing work and the impact that they are having in vulnerable communities, and this in itself is part of celebrating successful justice work. Despite the difficulties many face, especially the difficulties students of color are experiencing and witnessing, students and faculty in Sabiduría have been and continue being engaged in doing their work and in serving the community. The following is a list of activities conducted by Sabiduría students, Sabiduría postdoctoral (thank you Dr. Bueno) and some of the Sabiduría faculty since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Sabiduría Students in Action
- Students have been offering webinars and skill trainings on strengthening psychological immune systems (self-care) and trauma prevention to employees at Latinx-serving organizations as they are the first line of resources and support for many Latinx families. Some partners include Centro Cultural, Mexican Consulate, Latino Network, Centro de Prosperidad, Adelante Mujeres, SOAR, etc. We have trained more than 350 employees in Multnomah and Washington counties.
- Students have conducted charlas (talks/chats) for mental health using Facebook live and in collaboration with partners including Oregon Latino Health Coalition, Promotores de Salud de la Iglesia, Juntos Aprendemos, and Mano a Mano Family Center. Our charlas have reached more than 6000 people globally since April.
- The students have started bi-weekly charlas about different emotional and mental health topics in collaboration with Promotores de Salud de la Iglesia and Providence Community Health Division. Follow the charlas at https://www.facebook.com/charlascomunitarias/.
- Students have engaged in community presentations on Zoom and supported conversations on current issues affecting the Latinx community including conversations with DACA recipients in anticipation of the latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
- Sabiduría students have created educational videos for public use in Spanish on a variety of topics from how to support the emotional health of children to stress management during a pandemic and mindfulness. The videos have been shared by our partners and posted in the Washington County Human Services department.
- Students and faculty have been interviewed by the local news about stress management and COVID-19 issues.
- Students have been attending various civic engagement meetings on Zoom to advocate for the mental health needs of the Latinx community, to demand PPE for migrant farmworkers and to address state policies that are not inclusive of our community.
- Sabiduría started a new program in collaboration with Centro Cultural where students are matched with older Latinx adults experiencing significant social isolation. Students conduct weekly check-ins, evaluate and support their basic needs, and most importantly, provide social connection and support to the elders.
- Students are providing mental health services and immigration evaluations in Spanish for our community at the Pacific Psychology and Comprehensive Health Clinic. A rapid response treatment team was recently started to address the mental health needs of uninsured and low-income individuals who have been affected by COVID-19. Services are covered and paid by a community grant from Providence Health to the Sabiduría Program.
- Students continue having conversations inside and outside of class about issues of social justice and oppression. They are finding their voice to bring important and current issues for discussion in different educational and community settings. Thank you for doing such an important job.
- Sabiduría students released the first edition of the newsletter Saber es Poder (Knowledge is Power) in 2020.
Sabiduría received a public health certificate award from Washington County on April 2020 for the work of expanding knowledge and understanding of mental health issues in the local community. This award reflects the passion, energy, time and commitment of our Sabiduría team towards the community it serves. Still, I recognize that what we have and are doing is not enough. Our work is merely a granito de arena (grain of sand) in the mist of the needs and the big issues occurring in our society. On the other hand, we can celebrate with orgullo (cultural pride) the little things we are accomplishing. I hope this recognition continues to fuel our collaborative effort, the work of Sabiduría students, and the current movement to create a society that is more inclusive and responsive to underserved, marginalized, oppressed and underrepresented communities.
Many of us have chosen this work, because as POC we have experienced first-hand the injustices of not having access to care. This outreach will continue being our lifelong journey as well as for those who stand in solidarity with marginalized communities. Sometimes the work is rewarding, other times it we may leave us feeling defeated or in pain at witnessing so much injustice, yet we continue doing the work. This community outreach work is a result of partnerships and collaborations that have been built on trust over the last 6 years, and most importantly, built with a lot of heart and care.
Thank you to those who have supported Sabiduría students and our emphasis in continuing our focus on creating better and more equitable access to mental health services to the Latinx community. Most importantly, muchas gracias Sabiduría students. Even if it feels insignificant at times, su trabajo merece credito, y reconocimiento (your work deserves credit and recognition). May the work you have done continue fueling your passion to tap into other injustices of the world.
Feel free to share this message with others to recognize our amazing students. If your are interested in collaborating with Sabiduría please email Dr. Ruth Zúñiga at RZuniga@pacificu.edu.
With appreciation, respeto y orgullo.
Ruth Zúñiga, PhD. | Director of Sabiduría: Latina/o Psychology Emphasis
Associate Professor | School of Graduate Psychology