School Based Mental Health for Latinx/Latine Communities

June 8, 2023
“It was amazing being able to see everyone in the group, especially Mary*, have an increased pride in their identity as Latinx/x/Latine students!” – Alice Caceres-Turcios, MSW, APSW, Individual & Family Therapist

As a bicultural, bilingual therapist, Alice (Pictured Above) has observed that many students of color do not have safe spaces to discuss their thoughts and feelings regarding their identity, particularly in predominantly white institutions (PWI’s). Thus, she was excited when approached by FACE Kids to develop a curriculum for a Latinx Affinity group for middle schoolers that would provide a safe space for these students to foster a sense of belongingness, share feelings and thoughts as Latinx/Latine students, and learn coping skills to address social-emotional wellness.

She co-facilitated a Latinx Affinity Group for the first time during the spring 2023 semester for sixth graders. Topics of discussion included discussions of identity as a Latinx/Latine student, colorism, microaggressions, self-advocacy, and self-care. Students selected for this group identified not having a strong sense of belonginess and having experienced racial/ethnic trauma as students.

One student, Mary*, first struggled as she sometimes would not share with the group, and at times became disruptive. They once asked her to leave the group due to her behavior.

However, as the group progressed, students began sharing experiences of bullying and microaggressions in their school and home environments. Mary began to feel more comfortable sharing her own experiences and being able to verbally empathize with other group members. Throughout the group, Mary notably asked questions when new vocabulary was introduced and began to share in discussion more often.

Mary was excited in planning for the final group session and volunteered to bring foods that are a part of Latinx/Latine culture. After the group ended, Alice received feedback from the school co-facilitator that school staff have noticed an increase in Mary’s self-confidence, and willingness to work with new groups, and make new friends.

*Names have been changed