News Center for Community Health Partnership & Research Behavioral/ Mental Health

Study shows effective team approach to mental health services among Latinx community

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health 


Diana Parra Perez

A research study entitled, “Juntxs Se Puede: A Relational Teamwork Approach toward Enhancing Wellness” by a research team including Institute Faculty Scholar, Diana Parra Perez, shows that teamwork between multiple agencies is the most effective way to provide mental health treatment for members of the Latinx community. The study is funded by the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research Pitch Partners program.

The study assessed the benefits of treating the mental health needs of Latinx patients via an informal network of agencies comprised of the Refugio Hispanic Ministry of South City Church, LifeWise STL, and St. Louis Crisis Nursery. Perez’s team surveyed groups of clients who receive mental health services from either one, two or all three organizations.

The study also arranged focus groups with network clients. Each was asked questions measuring the six dimensions of wellness (social, intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual and occupational). The survey was followed by group discussion enabling participants to elaborate on their answers.

Research from the focus groups assessed barriers to physical and emotional well-being:

  • Participants reported barriers to their physical well-being such as lack of family support, lack of transportation, and lack of motivation
  • Barriers to emotional well-being included: work, depression and the lack of an ability to control or solve problems

The focus groups also assessed facilitators to participants’ physical and emotional well-being:

  • Participants reported that an enjoyment of and access to exercise and nutrition classes and having personal goals for health are facilitators to their physical well-being.
  • Participants said facilitators to their emotional well-being include agency/group collaboration and therapy.

Parra Perez says, “The study’s findings address issues of territorialism and competition by providing evidence that there is another, better approach to patient care based on mutual respect and collaboration, from which both the clients and the agencies benefit.” She adds, “The study is unique in that this population is reticent to get involved in research due to fear of the unknown, the current political climate, social risk, a lack of interpreters, and other social barriers that marginalize their community.”

Learn more about the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research and its Pitch Partners program.