SC CTSI Community Engagement partners with universities and community organizations to develop mental health training for promotores de salud

The Community Engagement core group collaborated with universities across California to develop a six-month mental health training program for community health workers. This initiative was aimed to enhance mental health support in underserved communities by providing community health workers with credible, scientifically backed information.

By Andrea Diaz — April 17, 2024

Earlier this month, the Community Engagement (CE) core group at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI) invited promotores de salud, also known as community health workers, from Visión y Compromiso and Esperanza Community Housing to the USC Health Sciences Campus to share their experiences and provide feedback on the six-month mental health training program in which they had participated.

This event was the culmination of the Year 3 project for the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) program, a research network that collaborates with community organizations to conduct research and communicate research findings to communities facing health disparities. It was also an opportunity to reflect on the project, obtain feedback about the project, and present the promotores with their certificates for completing the training.

Promotores with certificates
Photo by Andrea Diaz

CE partnered with Stanford University, University of California, Davis, University of California, Merced, and University of California, Irvine, to develop a series of webinars for the promotores on mental health topics that affect the Latino community. As part of the project, each promotor was expected to deliver a minimum of three community-based workshops on the topics that they had learned.

"The initiative was threefold. First, to support the promotores in managing their own stress or any other mental health challenges they may be facing. Second, to provide them with reliable information to share within their community. Lastly, to teach promotores the skills to develop and deliver their own community-based workshop, ” said Nicole Wolfe, PhD, Co-Director of the Community Engagement core group at SC CTSI.

Over the course of the six months, the promotores attended webinars on a range of mental health topics including: stress, mental health, and mindfulness; maintaining mental health and well-being; understanding and addressing depression, stress, and anxiety; trauma and mental health: what it is, how it affects our communities, and how can we treat it; mental health and well-being among Latinos. Sara Calderon, a promotora on the CE team, led these webinars alongside experts from partner academic institutions.

Promotores in class
Photo by Andrea Diaz

Following each webinar, the CE team held a discussion meeting with the promotores to review the learning objectives from the webinar and to engage in bi-directional communication on the topic to ensure understanding and retention. Each promotor was then instructed to create a presentation on that topic, which could then be used for a community-based workshop. The CE team worked closely with each promotor to help them develop, schedule, and evaluate their workshop.

“The immediate impact of this project on the communities involved has been positive and highlights the immediate impact of the project in raising awareness, fostering community engagement, and providing valuable support for mental health concerns within the communities served,” said Mayra Rubio-Diaz, CE Special Projects Manager.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.