**Forthcoming in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP). All rights reserved.**
Background: Mental healthcare is a top clinical concern for modern Puerto Rico, especially given a dramatically changing economic landscape paired with recurrent natural disasters. Youth are particularly at-risk due to long-term impacts of toxic stress and ACEs upon health and development.
Objectives: Here we present a novel clinician-community-educator-scientist partnership to address Puerto Rican youth mental wellbeing and wellness. We deployed pilot health workshops within the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico to build youth mental health conceptual understanding and competencies in stress recognition and management. The work in progress herein evaluates acceptability and feasibility of our curricular model.
Methods: Dialogue with community stakeholders guided curricular design of workshops for youth ages 6–13+. Prior to implementation, educators and volunteers attended a one-day training on educational strategies. Workshop success was evaluated using qualitative approaches (i.e. narrative feedback, educator and volunteer reflections, youth Talking Drawings) to assess youth engagement, youth conceptual health understanding, and educator/volunteer impressions of feasibility and impact.
Results: Initial findings indicate high acceptability and feasibility of our curricular model. Youth engagement and enthusiasm were noted in educator feedback and continue to be sustained post-workshop. Preliminary analysis shows accompanying increases in youth conceptual mental health, particularly for 6–12-year-olds in recognition of stress and healthy coping mechanisms. Reciprocal gains were observed for volunteers.
Conclusions: Activities have evolved into a formal partnership called Semilla, which features expanded analysis of mental wellbeing and wellness outcomes. Our collaborative model continues to engage Puerto Rican youth in the science of their wellbeing.