The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC), which has been providing support to families and individuals affected by mental illness for over 40 years, has developed culturally responsive programs to help address the mental health needs of the Latino community. Our Helpline provides information, education, and support in Spanish and 180 other languages. We’ve also developed our classes in Spanish, including Bases (Basics) and De Familia a Familia (Family-to-Family), as well as our Familiares y Amistades support group.
The PSA video was created after talking to friends and neighbors in the community and is aimed at reaching New Yorkers who are not familiar with NAMI-NYC or its programs. Our Video Producer and production interns went to various neighborhoods throughout the city, including Bushwick in Brooklyn, the Oculus in lower Manhattan, and Harlem in upper Manhattan to learn more. We tested several of our proposed focus group questions like, “In your opinion, what is mental health?” and “Do you know anyone struggling with their mental health?” Younger respondents felt comfortable talking to their closest friends and peers about their feelings. Many care for their physical health, like going to the gym, to improve mental wellbeing. Older respondents were more reticent to talk about mental health challenges.
From these field observations and interviews, we crafted the story for the PSA. The video features a mother and daughter who were once close but have grown apart due to the daughter’s mental health challenges. The mother, like many caregivers, has tried everything to reach out to her daughter but has become exhausted and resigned. The video shows that by realizing that she needs help, the mother can take the first step towards recovery for herself and her family. We also created a toolkit offering various ways for individuals and organizations to engage with the PSA and spread the word, such as sending an email to your network, hosting a community discussion, or sharing the video on social media. To date, the video has aired locally on CUNY TV, BRIC TV, and Manhattan Neighborhood Network. You can view the video and toolkit here: www.naminyc.org/psa.
Thus far, we’ve hosted one focus group via Zoom to measure the impact of our efforts – and hope to capture responses of at least 100 participants. We recruited 25 participants who identify as Latino for a 45-minute community conversation. We incentivized the group with a $25 Visa gift card. We explained the project, administered the pre- and post-surveys after screening the PSA, and facilitated a brief discussion. Preliminary results suggest there is a positive correlation between viewing the PSA and shifting mental health attitudes. Participants may have learned that people with SMI do indeed face stereotypes in their everyday lives and that anyone can be affected by mental illness. Participants were also eager to learn more about NAMI-NYC’s free mental health programs.
Mental health should not be a taboo subject, and it’s time to start having more candid conversations about it. At NAMI-NYC, we aim to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in the Latino community and encourage more people to seek help when they need it. We hope you join the conversation.
Matt Kudish is the CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC), helping families and individuals affected by mental health challenges for 40 years. Learn more about our mental health programs in Spanish: www.naminyc.org/espanol.