Before the Coronavirus pandemic, Latino students were already under incredible stress. This growing sector of the U.S. population faces a political climate that has stoked the fires of racism, xenophobia, and promoted harsh immigration policies. Many Latino students and English learners (ELs) face opportunity gaps that can start as early as infancy and follow them all the way through college. And what happens if you’re struggling to come out as LGBTQ?
UnidosUS’s education and mental health teams are concerned about all of the above, and they are working to build out culturally responsive mental health programs that specifically address the Coronavirus pandemic. ProgressReport.co will release features on those as they come. But in the meantime, here are a list of prior mental health blogs featuring previous studies, expert voices, and best practices from the UnidosUS policy and program teams and Affiliate Network as well as other collaborators.
Last summer, in the midst of a wave of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, ProgressReport.co worked with UnidosUS’s Director of Early Childhood Education Programs Robert Stechuk to help kids—especially very young ones—deal with the anxiety of potential raids. Despite much public outcry from the human rights community, ICE deportations continue in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. While space and resources are limited for families under quarantine, some of these suggestions can be instrumental.
In this pandemic, the whole world feels anxious and depressed, but not every culture, nor every individual expresses that in the same way. For this story, ProgressReport.co spoke with Patricia Foxen, UnidosUS’s deputy director research and authorof the 2016 publication Mental Health Services for Latino Youth: Bridging Culture and Evidence, as well as with representatives of theNational Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health, the National Latino Behavioral Health Association, and Montgomery County Maryland’s Positive Youth Development Initiative to identify red flags and devise a counseling plan, some of which may now be available online through these organizations and the UnidosUS Affiliate network.
But what about situations where counseling simply isn’t available, or a young person just doesn’t want to engage in it formally? Programming experts from UnidosUS’s Entre Mujeresyoung women’s initiative, as well as outside Latino youth outreach and cultural organizations, offered their favorite ideas for digging deep into one’s cultural roots for solace, wisdom, and hope.
Being cramped into close quarters with family, unable to engage with friends and classmates in the outside world can be really tough on a young person’s social life and sense of identity. For LGBTQ youth, that might include feeling like their personal life is on display in front of their families, who may or may not know or respect this aspect of their personhood. And bullying doesn’t go away. It goes online. Last year, UnidosUS released a toolkit to deal with these kind of concerns. The blog gives you an overview, or you can jump right into the toolkit itself: ALAS I: Welcoming LGBTQ Youth.
And finally, no immigration status, no sexual orientation, no learning disability, language barrier, ethnic background, and no virus should stand in the way of a child’s right to learn. That’s the law, but in these uncertain days, we know defending these rights is increasingly challenging. For some parents and students, just knowing what those right are, and where to seek resources if they’re violated, is in itself a way of building mental stamina and confidence to carry on. As students were going back to school last fall, UnidosUS’s education team put out the Every Child’s Right To Learn: Resources for Navigating Your Public Schools for this very purpose. Today, most students in America are out of the physical classroom, but their right to education remains. Reading up on those rights might even become a useful at-home lesson plan and resiliency builder in and of itself. This guide is also offered in Spanish under the title Cada Niño Tiene el Derecho de Aprender: Recursos Para Navegar Sus Escuelas Públicas.