The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health problems in the Latinx community, a community already facing mental health disparities pre-pandemic. Although culturally and linguistically aligned community-based mental health services are available to address Latinx mental health needs services far exceed the capacity to meet them. At El Futuro, we work to extend the capacity of the Community Health Workers (CHWs) to meet the growing mental health needs of the Latinx community in Durham and surrounding areas.

We are focusing on developing two methodologies to meet the need of the Latinx community better:
1. Increase access to mental health promotion services for Latinx families that are on the waiting list at El Futuro or are identified as distressed by community health workers currently engaged in COVID-19 work. For this, it is necessary to enhance the mental health competencies of community health workers.
2. Bridge the community health worker community and EL Futuro to better meet the mental health needs of the Latinx community.

We are forming partnerships that build a strong foundation for ongoing training and capacity-building of Community Health Workers to meet increased mental health needs in the Latinx and other immigrant communities in the wake of ongoing pandemic impacts.

Along with partners, we increased awareness of Community Health Workers as an essential component of Latinx community COVID response strategy.

We provided more than 38 hours of training to more than 426 Community Health Workers who serve more than 39 North Carolina counties. Community Health Workers were receptive and engaged; many requested ongoing training and support.

Upcoming activities include the training of one more agency in Cuidar La Mente Es Cuidar La Vida in Fall 2022. Additionally, we are finalizing MOUs with 3 agencies to devote CHW’s time to even deeper training in mental health using the Strong Minds, Strong Communities curriculum. Each agency has committed to using the skills from Cuidar La Mente Es Cuidar La Vida and the additional training to provide mental health support to members of the community who might otherwise wait for services.

We are currently tracking the development of new and strengthened community partnerships and how many Community Health Workers we are training. Now that we have trained a significant number of CHWs, we (and our partners) will also begin tracking how many families and individuals the CHWs have served since the training. To support our goal of reducing El Futuro’s waiting list, each agency has committed to taking at least 5 referrals from the El Futuro waiting list. Every quarter, each agency will report how many clients the CHWs served and which tools were used.

We will also measure the number of people on El Futuro’s waitlist. It has decreased from consistently 75 – 100 people throughout the year, to 4 people, representing a significant increase in access to services.