CBPR and Faith-Based Organizations: Promoting Mental Health Among Isolated Latinos in Rural Areas

Tuesday, July 12, 2011: 8:50 AM

Jeanne-Marie Stacciarini, PhD, RN
Amanda Hernandez
Elizabeth Johnson
College of Nursing, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Learning Objective 1: Describe the evidence regarding integration of faith-based Organizations (FBO) activities to promote mental health with Latinos in rural area.

Learning Objective 2: Describe FBO leaders’ recommendations for mental health promotion among rural isolated Latinos.

Purpose: The purpose of this community-based participatory research (CBPR) study was to assess potential for engagement with faith-based organizations (FBOs) in a rural county to promote mental health among isolated Latinos. Specific aims were as follows: 1) describe the evidence regarding integration of faith-based activities to promote mental health; 2) describe FBO leaders’ recommendations for mental health promotion among rural, isolated Latinos.

Methods:  This study was the qualitative arm of a larger CBPR pilot study in which community-academic members partnered to promote mental health among rural Latinos. In-depth interviews were conducted with FBO leaders (N =15) from different churches in this rural north Florida county populated with Latinos, and were then reviewed and analyzed for emerging themes.

Results: Although evidence in the literature supports faith as a coping mechanism/protective factor in mental health, little was found regarding effects of interventions that were implemented in conjunction with FBOs. To promote mental health and help socially integrate rural isolated Latinos, FBO leaders recommended the following strategies: build capacity and promote linguistic/English knowledge, reduce health and social inequities, provide geographic mobility and minimize immigration issues.  

 Conclusion: An innovative intervention that shifts from a view of mental “illness” treatment to a culturally appropriate “wellness” approach is being developed; FBO leaders are significantly contributing to this process. Because churches are places in which Latinos have traditionally felt  safe, incorporating FBOs as partners in mental health promotion may strengthen positive effects of interventions for rural isolated Latinos.