USC partners with Mexican consulate in Los Angeles

Getting involved · (From left to right) Social work students Alexandra Zaragoza, Magali Rodriguez and Elizabeth Sanchez at the Mexican consulate. Photo courtesy of USC News

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work has established a partnership with the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles to ensure mental health resources are accessible and available to Mexican residents in the city. The mental health unit is also a collaboration with the Department of Mental Health, along with several other community organization partners.

There has been increasing concern regarding the mental health of Mexican immigrants since the earthquake in Mexico City and the news surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

”Following recent changes in the socio-political sentiments of the United States, this resource has been greatly beneficial to the Mexican community of Los Angeles,” said Luis Caso, secretary of foreign relations of Mexico.

The work of Concepcion Barrio, an associate professor at the School of Social Work; alumna Paula Helu-Brown; Karla Torres, the health program director at the Mexican consulate; and USC graduate students allowed for the successful development and implementation of this partnership.

“This pioneering program is important because we are dealing with a double stigma: immigration and mental health,” Videgaray said to USC News, explaining how he wants to see similar programs developed at all consulates worldwide.

Helu-Brown, a native of Mexico, described the focus on immigrants as critically important, especially in helping to improve the lives and mental health of fellow Latinxs.

“[The partnership] provides much-needed mental health services to people dealing with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health concerns that seem to have been heightened with the current political environment,” Helu-Brown said in an email to the Daily Trojan.

Helu-Brown also said the program was developed as a response to growing concern about the mental health of Latinx immigrants. She is currently the clinical coordinator of the program and worked to develop it, emphasizing how seeking assistance can be tremendously difficult in Los Angeles.

According to Helu-Brown, the program is intended to provide a safe space where peoplecan obtain free mental health services on site, online, as well as education and outreach in efforts to reduce mental illness stigma.

“Many times Mexicans who live far from their country fall into situations of fragility, addictions, nostalgia and depression,” Carlos García de Alba, the Consulate General of México in Los Angeles, said on the program’s website. “It is for them, for example, who will seek to benefit this project, as well as many others who need help.”

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