El Futuro launches program to improve mental health among Northeast Florida’s Hispanic community

BY VICTORIA JOHNSON, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/12/21

DURHAM — El Futuro launched an initiative to improve mental health outcomes and develop tailored services for Latino families living in northeast Florida, the bilingual mental health clinic …

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El Futuro launches program to improve mental health among Northeast Florida’s Hispanic community

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Posted

DURHAM — El Futuro launched an initiative to improve mental health outcomes and develop tailored services for Latino families living in northeast Florida, the bilingual mental health clinic announced last week.

Funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the initiative will work with local community organizations to develop Spanish-language mental health services that best serve the needs of the Latino communities in the area.

“The goal of this mental health initiative is not only to improve outcomes, but also to empower local Latino communities to take an active role in research to improve the health of their community,” according to El Futuro’s press release. “Central to the project is listening to the wisdom of the community to help guide research efforts in order to deliver the greatest benefit to the people being served.”

El Futuro is a community-based nonprofit that offers bilingual and culturally responsive mental health services to Spanish-speaking communities across North Carolina. The nonprofit organization has two clinics in Durham and Siler City.

To carry out the initiative, El Futuro has partnered with researchers from the Mayo Clinic — a national nonprofit dedicated to innovating clinical practice, education and research — to address health disparities. Staff are also working with Mayo Clinic researchers to bring “effective, cutting-edge services to a community that has often been pushed to the sideline,” said El Futuro’s executive director Luke Smith in the press release.

“El Futuro serves the Latino community with a mission to nurture and support familias to live out the dreams that brought them to our community in the first place,” Smith added.

Internist and pediatrician Richard White researches health disparities at Mayo Clinic. He’s one of the researchers working with El Futuro on the initiative.

“I am excited to build on El Futuro’s work with the Latino community and its expertise in culturally-responsive mental health approaches,” he said. “Our collaboration will bring more effective research results to communities in Florida who have been hit hard by the pandemic.”

Data indicates that the need is great, added licensed mental health counselor Mario Decunto, who serves on the Mayo Clinic Hope 2 board. He’s worked with families since 2009 and served on various Hispanic advisory boards and human rights commissions in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Current research shows a significant disparity in health care for our Hispanic community,” said Decunto, “so we are very excited to focus on patient-centered outcomes research to start addressing the real needs of the Hispanic community and close that gap in services, especially mental health.”

The initiative’s community-based approach and toolkit draws from a previous pilot project El Futuro conducted in North Carolina, the press release said. In the future, the nonprofit plans to expand this initiative throughout the southeast United States, where the Hispanic population has grown 26% in just the past decade.

For more information, visit El Futuro’s website at elfuturo-nc.org.

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