Latinx Community Health Workers: Meeting their Community's Emotional Needs in Intuitively Culturally Appropriate Ways

Online Publication Date:
December 22, 2021
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
Manuscript PDF File:

**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) volume 16.1. All rights reserved**

Background: Scarcity of trained mental health professionals who speak the language and understand Latinx cultures is a significant challenge in Oregon. Latinx, particularly immigrants, present to health settings with a variety of psychosomatic symptoms associated with emotional distress. Generalized fear in an anti-immigrant environment is an exacerbating problem that alienates Latinx, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, preventing them from accessing mental health services. The value of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in addressing the health disparities of marginalized groups is immeasurable, and has the potential to be expanded to also assist in meeting the mental health needs of Latinx communities.
Methods: This qualitative, participatory research study, co-designed and delivered by CHWs, reports on the experiences of CHWs working with Latinx in Oregon. Focus groups and a survey were used to gather data from CHWs about their experiences responding to the psycho-emotional needs of Latinx.
Objectives: The role of CHWs in providing help to Latinx who are not served by traditional mental health services is explored.
Results: CHWs significantly contribute to meeting the gap in provision of culturally relevant crisis intervention, in the language of Latinxs in need. Latinx in Oregon rarely make use of traditional mental health services and/or the services offered are linguistically and culturally inadequate.
Conclusions: Healthcare providers are encouraged to attend to both the mental health and physical needs of Latinx in culturally informed and sensitive ways. Given the shortage of adequately trained mental health providers, CHWs are key in accomplishing these goals.