NY Times Article

News & Announcements

Unauthorized Immigrants Steer Clear of Medical Care

The New York Times
June 26, 2017
by Jan Hoffman

A version of this article appears in print on June 27, 2017, on Page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Sick With Worry.

 


Fernando Fiore (FOX Sports) Visits El Futuro in Durham

Que Pasa

DURHAM, NC – (December 7, 2016) — Fernando Fiore of FOX Sports (previously of Univision) brought inspiration and laughter to El Futuro when he stopped by for a visit on Wednesday morning.

Fiore, who had previously spent his distinguished career working exclusively on Spanish-language television, made his English-language debut with FOX Sports in 2016 during Copa America Centenario.

In an informal and uplifting gathering with Dr. Luke Smith (executive director and psychiatrist) and other members of the El Futuro staff, Mr. Fiore reflected that there are so often things in the news or in people’s personal lives that can take away a sense of hope for the future. “This morning when I woke up, I went to Durham Nativity School and experienced so much energy and enthusiasm from the faculty and the kids who attend there. And now I’m visiting El Futuro and learning about the hope you are bringing to people’s lives. And I feel so happy about the future…about el futuro. The sun feels so bright.”

El Futuro nurtures stronger familias to live out their dreams. With clinics in Durham and Siler City, the nonprofit provides proven, bilingual mental health and substance abuse treatments for Latino families throughout central North Carolina.

Dr. Smith shared more about the importance of the work of the volunteer-founded organization: “Many people experience symptoms like depression and anxiety when going through difficult events. For our newest neighbors who have suffered extraordinary hardships related to poverty and migration, this is particularly true. At El Futuro, Latino families who are hurting are able to step out of the darkness, into a warm and welcoming embrace that is focused on healing and hope.”

Karla Siu (MSW, LCSW), clinical director at El Futuro, shared more. “Too often, families don’t know where to turn for help when they see their loved one suffering with mental illness. This is why we treat the whole family, providing education and support, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.”

Mr. Fiore, a generous champion of many community efforts in the United States and abroad, praised El Futuro’s staff and provided encouragement for continuing the difficult – yet so important – work. “You are the true heros in our community. You can count on me as a friend of El Futuro.”

In closing, Dr. Smith reflected: “Having someone who is this visible to so many people share about the importance of accessing quality mental health care is just huge. I cannot say enough how grateful I am to Fernando for his friendship.”

“I like very much what I saw here and I am committed to helping,” Mr. Fiore said, sharing hugs around the room as he said goodbye.

Fernando Fiore’s illustrious career spans more than 26 years and includes winning two Emmy Awards. Mr. Fiore is originally from Argentina, and now resides in Miami.

His visit was made possible by AC&M Group, the premier multicultural marketing firm in the U.S, with expertise in the Hispanic market, soccer, social media, and PR.

To learn more about El Futuro and to make a financial contribution, visit www.elfuturo-nc.org.

 

 


Organización El Futuro brinda tratamientos de salud mental a la comunidad hispana

Que Pasa 11/15/2016

Escrito por REDACCIÓN

Durham.-El Fututro es una organización sin fines de lucro que brinda a la comunidad latina tratamientos de salud mental por el abuso de sustancias, terapia ambulatoria y servicios de siquiatría para todas las edades.

El equipo clínico bilingüe brinda tratamientos a las familias latinas, sin importar el estado de su seguro médico o su situación económica.

Desde el inicio de clases a finales de agosto, los terapeutas y psiquiatras de El Futuro han visto el aumento de más estudiantes y familias que llegan a su clínica ambulatoria en Durham pidiendo ayuda. “Estoy muy agradecido de poder ofrecer horas de servicio mediante nuestra clínica ambulatoria a las familias que atendemos. Sé que es un gran alivio para las familias que llaman porque tienen un niño en crisis, y luego se enteran que pueden ser vistos por un equipo de profesionales, el mismo día sin tener que esperar una cita”, dijo el Dr. Luke Smith, director ejecutivo y psiquiatra de El Futuro.

El método que utiliza El Futuro para tratar a los jóvenes, niños y familias en sus tratamientos es apreciado por el personal de las Escuelas Públicas de Durham.

Según Pablo Friedman, Especialista Bilingüe de Prevención de Abandono Escolar del Centro de Recursos ESL de las Escuelas Públicas de Durham, El Futuro brinda servicios asequibles y equitativos, “Quiero lo mejor para los niños con los que trabajo”.

Fernando Campos, Coordinador de la Comunidad Latina de las Escuelas Públicas de Durham, dijo “Cuando veo a estudiantes con dificultades en la escuela o en sus vidas, sé que El Futuro es un lugar donde puedo enviar a los niños y a sus familias y serán bienvenidos de manera culturalmente competente, en un ambiente bilingüe. Eso es importante para nuestros estudiantes”.

Este es un método que funciona bien para el personal del Centro de Recursos ESL de las Escuelas Públicas de Durham, donde el 28.5% de los estudiantes son Latinos. La labor del Centro es ser un recurso para los que no hablan Inglés, estudiantes inmigrantes y familias para ayudarlos a graduarse y continuar con los siguientes pasos de su futuro. “Algunas veces eso significa brindar interpretación, ser un intermediario entre los profesores y estudiantes, planificación académica…y algunas veces significa ser el representante de la escuela quien les escucha y se entera de los retos que enfrentan los niños, y luego les busco recursos que puedan ayudarlos”, comparte el Sr. Campos.

Los primeros meses del año escolar demuestran ser particularmente difícil para cualquier estudiante. Este año el personal del Centro de Recursos ESL y el equipo clínico de El Futuro han visto un número elevado de estudiantes que han llegado de El Salvador y Honduras este verano. Muchos vinieron solos o con hermanos menores. Dejaron sus países natales, “en algunos casos, para salvar sus vidas literalmente”, dice Alvely Alcántara, terapeuta bilingüe en El Futuro, comentando que la violencia de las pandillas en los países natales de algunos de los estudiantes era un problema tan grande que los niños veían el salir de viaje solo o con familiares camino a Estados Unidos como la única manera de escapar.

Según la Organización, una vez en Estados Unidos, los estudiantes podrían estar con miembros de su familia que no ven en más de una década, por esta razón hay familias que tienen dificultades en hacer una conexión el uno con el otro y adaptarse a su nueva vida. En la escuela los estudiantes trabajan duro para aprender Inglés y entender sus tareas, pero el ambiente escolar es diferente, muchos tuvieron que dejar de ir a la escuela en su país de origen para poder cuidar a su familia. Y la cultura es diferente, puede ser difícil encajar.

“Ahí es cuando los estudiantes empiezan a quejarse de dolores de cabeza y estómago. Empiezan a decir que no quieren ir a la escuela, y dejan de ir. Son señales de una ansiedad severa,” comparte Alcántara. “Ahí mismo es donde podemos ayudar”.

El método de El Futuro es bi-generacional, brindado tratamiento no solo para el estudiante, también para la familia completa. “Algunas veces los familiares o padres no entienden lo que está sucediendo. Cuando les ayudamos a entender que sus niños están teniendo reacciones normales ante situaciones estresantes, y les enseñamos herramientas para lidiar, la familia entera empieza a mejorar,” dice Alcántara.

“La verdadera historia es su resistencia”, dice la terapeuta de El Futuro Alejandra Martínez-Lacabe (MSW, LCSW). “Estos niños han vencido tantas cosas, cuando vienen a vernos y ganamos su confianza, trabajan duro para mejorar sus vidas. Eso dice mucho de lo fuertes que son”.

Alcántara está de acuerdo. “Mis pacientes hacen preguntas, tienen curiosidad, quieren aprender. Me gusta ver cómo cambia su comportamiento cuando empiezan a sentirse seguros y confían en mí. Y se los demuestro. Les digo lo maravilloso que es eso, y les digo, “Estoy orgullosa de tí”.

El Futuro está ubicada en 136 E Chapel Hill St. Durham, NC
Teléfono (919) 688-7101

 


El Futuro provides psychiatric services to immigrants

The Triangle Business Journal 5/20/2016

Philanthropy North Carolina blog 5/23/2016

By Todd Cohen

 

DURHAM, N.C. — In 2002, during his psychiatry residency at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Luke Smith saw a gap in services to low-income Latino patients, both in the emergency room at UNC Hospitals and at the Carrboro Community Health Center, where he volunteered Monday nights.

Many of the patients were recent immigrants who were confused and frightened, facing the stress of jobs and a new culture, and with psychiatric problems they were not comfortable talking about that showed themselves in physical symptoms, he says.

Yet at the clinic and at the emergency room, which patients typically visited as a last resort, he says, the people working the front desks did not speak Spanish and so did not accurately communicate to the physicians on duty the underlying nature of the patients’ problems.

So near the end of his residency, Smith sent an email message to five academic colleagues to spell out challenges he saw, and to suggest ways to better serve patients.

A few days later, he had received responses from 80 people who had seen his email. Then, after a series of meetings, a group of those people founded El Futuro, a nonprofit that has the mission of advancing bilingual and “culturally informed” behavioral health treatment for underserved, Spanish-speaking individuals and families.

Launched in Carrboro, El Futuro now is based in Durham and also runs a clinic in Siler City. It operates with an annual budget of $1.5 million, 27 employees and 20 volunteers.

In 2015, it provided over 8,900 sessions to nearly 1,500 patients, or just over six visits per patient.

“We’re by and large talking about an immigrant community who are coming to the U.S. to strengthen their family and for working,” says Smith, executive director of El Futuro. In visiting the clinic, he says, immigrants are “motivated to get back to work or their education, or to get their children into school, or to have a healthy family.”

Immigrants in the U.S. generally are healthier psychologically than the population overall and experience less schizophrenia, depression or anxiety, yet the longer they stay in the U.S., the more the incidence of those conditions among immigrants approaches those of the population overall, Smith says.

“For some reason, it seems like we make them sicker,” he says.

Compounding the stress of living in a different culture, he says, are policies and attitudes toward immigrants that are not welcoming or hospitable and sometimes hostile. And the children of immigrants typically experience rates of mental illness similar to those of the general population, Smith says.

El Futuro now is exploring expansion to serve more people in more regions by participating in collaboratives and through “integrated care” that provides behavioral health services in a primary care setting.

While not a formal partner in the East Durham Children’s Initiative, for example, El Futuro works closely with the collaborative, and also with the Family Success Alliance in Orange County, both of which emphasize a “two-generation approach to help not just the child but the caregiver as well,” Smith says.

“We’ve always focused on children and families because we can’t separate the two,” he says. “We’re not just happy with you saying your outcome is getting children more ready for school but also getting the parent a good stable job so the home is stabilized.”

And El Futuro clinical staff spend part of their time at Piedmont Health Services in Carrboro — part of the same clinic system for which Smith volunteered during his residency.

El Futuro draws patients from 15 counties but is not easily accessible to them, Smith says.

So the nonprofit also is looking for ways to partner with public schools and groups such as Communities in Schools and United Way member agencies to provide “strategic interventions that can support these students,” Smith says.

And it provides year-long training each for five to six graduate students from Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel preparing to be physicians, psychiatrists, family doctors, psychiatric nurse practitioners or social workers

To serve more immigrants, Smith says, “we need a bigger potential workforce.”

Last week, El Futuro was awarded a $500,000 grant over four years from Oak Foundation and will use the funds to increase the number of people it serves.

Providing better psychiatric services to immigrants also can mean a positive return on investment for businesses, he says.

“If a person is depressed and misses work and then has to be replaced,” he says, “instead of having to replace that person, and its cost, we can get that person back to work in six treatment sessions that typically last two to three months. Our essence is to get people back to work and back into school.”


 

 

News from El Futuro

Prestigious National Research Agency Awards El Futuro $241,825

to Improve Health Care by Involving More Patients in Research

For Release: Immediate                            

Contact:  Kerry Brock, 919.688.7101 Ext. 632 (Office)

 

DURHAM, NC– (Mar. 18, 2016) —  A prestigious national research agency has awarded El Futuro $241,825 in funding to find ways to improve mental health treatment by better involving patients in research and applying the results.

El Futuro, which has offices in Durham and Siler City, is the first community organization in North Carolina to receive the Eugene Washington Engagement Award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), based in Washington, DC.

Luke Smith, MD, Executive Director of El Futuro will lead the engagement project.  Under the project, El Futuro will develop a toolkit for community groups to involve more patients in research projects in order to find ways to engage more persons in treatment and achieve better results. The project is called “Puentes” (Spanish for “bridge”) because the goal is to create a bridge between patients and the research community.

“The patient is at the heart of what we do as we provide treatment so involving them in research means the findings are more likely to be applied and be successful, ” said Luke Smith, MD, founder and Executive Director of El Futuro.

“This award from PCORI aims to turn the tables so that the agenda is set by patients who best know the needs in the community and know where research can be helpful and practical. Agencies like El Futuro can help facilitate this and guide a process that really puts patients in the driver’s seat.”

UNC’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research will lend valuable support in helping to make this project one that can engage patients and community organizations for years to come. Kathleen Thomas, PhD, and Mónica Pérez Jolles, PhD, will provide guidance around technical aspects of the contract management and guidance with outcomes.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to continue our work with El Futuro, where they can take the lead in this new project,” said Thomas, a Research Associate and Fellow with the Program on Mental Health Services Research at the Sheps Center.

Latinos are the fastest-growing minority community (now 16 percent nationally and nine percent in North Carolina). Because of histories of abuse, the stress of travel and becoming adjusted to a new culture, Latinos are at higher risk for mental health problems. However, these children and adults are 50 to 60 percent less likely to receive services, compared to white non-Latinos.  Latinos are also less likely to participate in research. Many agencies serving them lack the expertise and resources to do patient-centered research.

“By increasing the capacity of service providers like El Futuro to engage in patient-centered care and research to improve the mental health of underserved Latino communities, we are contributing to applicable solutions that promote inclusion and equity,” said Pérez Jolles, post-doctoral research fellow at the Sheps Center.

El Futuro’s deep and trustworthy relationships among the Latino community will permit it to  involve patients in developing “standards of engagement” to guide research endeavors in other organizations.

Established in 2004, El Futuro (www.elfuturo-nc.org) is an award-winning nonprofit organization that provides behavioral health services to the Latino community and works to target long term sustainable solutions for wellness. Because these services otherwise aren’t readily available, El Futuro is providing a vital service for the growing Latino community.

As a vital safety net provider, El Futuro takes the pressure off some acute care providers (such as a hospital emergency department or inpatient mental health hospital) and gives people the right treatment at the right time that is more economical than other approaches. Where one day at the state mental health hospital costs an estimated $1,231, one unit of service at El Futuro is about $115.

The well-qualified, bilingual professional staff of 26 includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and addictions counselors who use evidence-based treatments with proven effectiveness.

In addition to the clinical sites in Durham and Siler City, El Futuro works in primary care practices, schools and other settings.  In 2014, over 1,600 children and adults from poverty-level families received services that are effective – 80 percent of patients served by El Futuro have demonstrated stabilization or improvement leading to better functioning at home, work and school.

El Futuro has developed a sustainable program for this at-risk population through an array of funding including contract work, reimbursements from insurance companies, donations, and contracts/grant funding.

While El Futuro serves many people each year, what matters is each person who walks through the doors and receives the help needed. In recent months, a girl who had suffered much abuse came describing panic attacks and had stopped attending school. With help she has now returned to school and her grades, and self-confidence, have steadily improved. Another recent success was a man with schizophrenia who suffered through recurrent hallucinations and communication problems with his psychiatrist before finding El Futuro. He now has the treatment he needs and has started a part-time job.

Whether it be a child with fears, a man with chronic struggle, or a mother experiencing post-partum depression, El Futuro is there to help with real strategies and real solutions.

The Sheps Center seeks to improve the health of individuals, families, and populations by understanding the problems, issues and alternatives in the design and delivery of health care services.

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.


 

500K grant to El Futuro will help Latinos

Durham Herald-Sun May 19, 2016

By Keith Upchurch

DURHAM — A $500,000 grant to Durham-based El Futuro is expected to help hundreds of additional low-income immigrant Latinos thrive at work, school, and home.

The award, announced Wednesday, was made by the Oak Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We are blown away by the generosity of Oak Foundation and their support for people in our community who are living on the margins,” said Dr. Luke Smith, a psychiatrist, founder and executive director of the nonprofit that provides mental health and addiction counseling to Latinos in Durham and 14 counties in central North Carolina.

Kerry Brock, El Futuro’s manager of grants and strategic development, said the money will be used over four years, and is expected to help an extra 100 immigrant Latinos each year between now and 2019.

In recent years, El Futuro has served more than 1,500 members of the Latino community each year, with evidence-based mental health and addictions outpatient counseling. Latino children and families receive care at El Futuro’s two clinics — in Durham and Siler City — with a team including clinically trained substance abuse counselors, social workers, psychologists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and marriage and family therapists.

Roughly three-quarters of those served are either stabilized or show improvement in their clinical symptoms and function better at home, work or school, according to El Futuro.

Between 2000 and 2010, North Carolina experienced the sixth-fastest rate of growth in the nation of Latinos, and that trend continues. In the Triangle, the Latino population grew by 128.5 percent in this same period.

The grant will:

— Help unaccompanied minors who come into community. Recently, 54 percent of the children seen at El Futuro fell into that group.

— Provide treatments for traumatized Latinos.

— Improve access to services.

— Address workforce shortages by training professionals and supervising interns from UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and N.C. State.

Impacts of the treatments supported by the grant can already be seen, according to El Futuro’s clinical director, Karla Siu.

“I think of a young girl that we worked with recently,” she said. “Because of a history of trauma and abuse, she came to us having such terrible panic attacks that she had been unable to go to school for an entire year. After starting treatment, not only did she gain the tools to help her go back to school, but she also came in recently and showed off her report card, with all A’s and B’s. Her confidence has soared, along with her ability to grow and learn at her best. This is the type of impact that will be supported by the generous grant from Oak Foundation, and we are so grateful.

El Futuro helps Latino families with services that would not otherwise be accessible, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. While the organization receives money from Medicaid, Health Choice, Medicare, and some private insurance, it relies on grants, contracts, corporate, and private charitable donations to support 60 percent of the costs of treating a patient.

 


 

El Futuro helps Latinos with mental health, addiction issues

Durham Herald-Sun April 17, 2016

By Keith Upchurch

 

Luke Smith, MD, is executive director of El Futuro in Durham. Photo Courtesy of El Futuro. DURHAM —

Psychiatrist Luke Smith counseled a Latino child recently who had been through hell.

The girl crossed the U.S.-Mexican border by herself after her mother died and her father, living in the United States, sent for her.

But the child was caught and sent to a detention center in Arizona for illegal immigrants. After two months, she was allowed to join her father in North Carolina.

“You don’t survive that without some sort of emotional problem,” said Smith, founder and executive director of El Futuro, a Durham-based nonprofit that provides mental health and addiction counseling to Latinos.

El Futuro, which means “the future” in Spanish, was established in 2004 as a safety net for Latinos, taking the pressure off acute-care providers such as hospital emergency departments and inpatient mental hospitals. It opened its Durham headquarters at 136 E. Chapel Hill St. in 2009, and also has a clinic in Siler City.

The bilingual staff includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and addiction counselors. Patients never get a bill from the nonprofit, which is supported by individual donations and grants, in addition to reimbursements from various insurance entities.

Smith and his staff can treat a patient for about $115 a day, compared to $1,232 at a state psychiatric hospital. Insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid pick up the tab in most cases.

Smith knows that some clients might have entered the country illegally, but El Futuro’s policy is not to ask, although they do request a Social Security or tax ID number from those who are employed.

“We don’t look at people as illegals,” Smith said. “We look at them as people.”

El Futuro tries to create a non-threatening environment so that everyone in need will feel comfortable in seeking help.

“What I’m most impressed by is how people are resilient in adversity,” Smith said. “I’ve watched so many people get better and overcome obstacles. El Futuro is about tearing down barriers, and trying to help people achieve their potential.”

Smith recalled another success story about a boy he began counseling in elementary school. Today, he’s in the military and has his life on track.

“He comes into town occasionally and checks in with me just to visit,” Smith said. “He wears his uniform, because he wants to show how proud he is about where he is now.”

Smith enjoys staying in touch with patients as they progress in life.

“I like walking with people over time and really being their support,” he said.

Involving the entire family is a key ingredient to success, according to Smith.

“We’re a family-centered group,” he said. “If a kid comes in and is hurting, more than likely their parents are hurting too. If they don’t have insurance, that won’t stop us from giving the parents help. We want to strengthen the family.”

Karla Siu, clinical director, said El Futuro served 1,460 people in 2015. Most were from Durham County, but the nonprofit serves clients from all over central North Carolina.

“The thing the makes us unique is that we offer services in an environment that is culturally appropriate and fully bilingual,” she said. “We provide a welcoming refuge of healing and hope for the Latino population who may face language or other barriers.”

Siu said a particular focus is on treating people who have undergone trauma.

“Many suffer from trauma related to poverty or immigration,” she said. “They might have suffered abuse on their journey from their home country to the United States. Or there might have been violence in their country of origin. And then people often face cultural and language isolation when they arrive in their new community.”

El Futuro sees clients who suffer from related mental health problems, including some who struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol, according to Siu.

El Futuro tries to provide services that help clients stay focused on their dreams for the future.

“So many folks have left their home countries to seek a better life for themselves and their children, and when they run into these trauma-based symptoms or other mental health challenges, it can remove the focus on that bright future they originally had,” she said. “Our goal is to help them recover fully.”

A recent survey showed that 82 percent of El Futuro’s clients experience “functional improvement” — performing better at work or school, she said.

For Smith, those figures confirm that he made the right decision in founding the clinic.

“When immigrants come to the United States, they’re here for work, education and to build strong families,” he said. “We’re just trying to help them do that.”

More information on El Futuro is available at www.elfuturo-nc.org


 

Latina girls find voice in song

The News and Observer – APRIL 27, 2016 2:00 AM

Nine Latina youths wrote a song called “Vívela,” or “live it” debuted at an El Futuro luncheon

El Futuro provides bilingual mental health care to the Latino community

BY NATALIE RITCHIE
nritchie@newsobserver.com

DURHAM — When Jenna Horgan first approached the group of nine girls about writing a song together, they were sure it was impossible.

The girls were part of a music therapy group at El Futuro, which provides mental health services to local Latino community members.

Two of them had immigrated into the United States within the past year while the other seven had been born or raised here. Given their different backgrounds, the girls weren’t sure how to write a song encompassing all of their experiences.

But when Horgan began asking them for advice they would give a friend struggling with depression, the girls were full of ideas.

Stay positive, one said.

Sea fuerte, or be strong, said another.

“One after another they said these beautiful and wise words,” Horgan told about 300 people at a fundraising lunch Thursday.

The girls maintained that their words didn’t even rhyme, but as Horgan put them to music, the song began to take shape. “One of them said ‘this is actually really good,’” Horgan said to laughs.

Horgan and Rosa Inez Ramirez, a junior at Durham School of the Arts, debuted the song at the luncheon and invited the audience to join in for the final chorus: “life is muy preciosa – vívela,” live it.

Flashcards and telenovelas

Dr. Luke Smith, the group’s executive director, moved to Durham in 2000 for his psychiatry residency and found many of his patients spoke Spanish. As of 2013, 14.5 percent of the Durham population identified as Hispanic or Latino.

He began teaching himself through a mixture of flashcards and telenovelas and eventually led an effort to establish El Futuro in 2004.

The organization has three main missions, said Kerry Brock, manager of grants and strategy development: clinical treatment through group and individual therapy, community outreach and education, and professional training for people like Horgan, who is interning with El Futuro while pursuing her master of social work at N.C. State University.

Most of the group’s clients are referred from other community agencies, but Brock said, “something that we’re really proud of is the second largest source is family and friends of current clients.” She said this reflects the group’s focus on confianza, trust.

El Futuro served almost 1,460 people last year in nearly 9,000 sessions.

Stigma still

Karon Johnson, an El Futuro therapist, said language barriers, lack of information about services, and fears that what they share won’t be kept confidential can keep some from seeking help.

“There’s stigma,” she added. “Often religion plays a very large part in the Latino community. … If you can’t pray enough, or you can’t trust God enough for him to relieve what’s going on then why come to man when God provides everything.”

“As an African-American woman I can relate because there’s also that level of stigma and hesitance in our community as well,” she said. “For me, I see so much interconnectedness, shared experiences, shared fears. Being able to bridge that gap is hugely important to what we do.”

Johnson said people seek help for depression, PTSD, acute stress disorders and substance abuse. Many are struggling with financial stress, and some with anxiety over their immigration status.

El Futuro also offers programs specifically for Latina adolescents, which Horgan said have the highest rate of contemplated or attempted suicide of any demographic.

Johnson said the programs help the girls learn to express themselves and better understand their feelings.

“The music therapy was a more recent development that Jenna was just so gracious and innovative to come up with,” she said.

According to Horgan, not only was the song-writing process therapeutic, but “the recording process was empowering as well.”

“One client told her therapist later that week, ‘I was afraid to sing, but the group helped me find my voice,’” she said.
Ritchie: 919-829-8925

Speaking the same language

Many Latino families grapple with the challenges of acculturation, says Karon Johnson, an El Futuro therapist.

In some cases, a parent may speak Spanish while the child speaks English or a mixture of both. “So they come to our clinic, and we do all that we can to help them to learn how to speak each other’s languages,” she said.

Providing culturally informed, bilingual services is a critical point in El Futuro’s mission.

“One of the important elements of mental health services is creating an alliance with your provider, and that can be interrupted a bit if there’s an interpreter there,” Johnson said. “You lose some of that natural rapport.”

That’s not to say all of their clients speak Spanish. “We’ve had clients who are Latino but who were born here and speak only English and really just wanted to be in a place that understood their family culture, their history, and the things that come to bear when they’re dealing with their environmental stressors,” she explained.

Smith calls it “la lucha.” In a dictionary, this would translate simply as “the fight,” but he described as a “grinding, neverending struggle.”

“We feel that burden as people walk through our doors each day,” he said. “When a group of us met over ten years ago to establish El Futuro, I didn’t appropriately consider the daily encounter that we would have with la lucha.”
Staff writer Natalie Ritchie

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136 E Chapel Hill St.
Durham, NC
Phone: (919) 688-7101

319 A East 3rd St.
Siler City, NC
Phone: (919) 688-7101

Fax: (919) 688-7102