HEAL holds a webinar about mental health during COVID-19

Victoria Meza, Reporter

A BC webinar was held called “Salud Mental y Bienestar Durante el COVID-19 (Mental Health and Wellbeing During COVID-19)” and hosted by Kathleen Murphy to talked about the mental health of people, whether they were students or not. The first half of the meeting was held in Spanish and the second half was hold in English, both with interpreters. The first half was with Doctor Tania Pachecho, who talked about mental health in rural communities.
Dr. Pachecho started to talk about the importance of this program, and why they did it in the first place. She was accompanied by Sandra Celedon who was explaining that she works in several healthy communities and she keeps building healthy communities to work with groups that are going to be able to bring up resources for folks that are looking forward to a happy life.
Celedon explains that she has been working with partners to shape a project to help folks to be updated about the information that would help to improve their life, mostly for essential workers.
After Celedon’s brief introduction about the project, they introduced their first speaker, Dr. Iran Barrera, to talk about awareness of mental health among Latino-American communities.
Dr. Barrera explains that there has been a lot of anxiety because of the pandemic; according to him, we became more distant from our family and friends and that is what is affecting everyone, including the Latino communities. He explains that anxiety is not the only thing that this separation has to bring up, but depression as well.
They talked about how African Americans, Latino, and some other communities are sometimes hesitating to say what they feel. They talked specifically about the Latino community because most Latinos have a cultural barrier to going to therapy; they handled it another way.
“Our cultures are doing practices that are helping us feel better because at the end of the day what we’re trying to seek are ways that help us feel better, healthier,” said Dr. Barrera.
He explained that some people would rather go to another kind of “therapy” that would make them feel well, for example, go to play a game like Bingo and take it as therapy. That is why he said that they should be more creative when giving people solutions to solve their problems.
Dr. Pachecho explained that in her family, there was some postpartum depression. Her family would not go to a therapist to try to solve the problem or something, but they would go to ‘’curanderos’’ (herbal healers). This was because, in her family, postpartum depression was never called like that.
“It’s very important that people find the space within their own culture to be able to heal from everything that is occurring throughout this pandemic, but on the other hand we also have to recognize that some people need this attention,” said Dr. Pachecho. “They need to go to a therapist. They need to go to a psychiatrist. They need to go to the hospital if they’re having a mental crisis.”
They mentioned that the Latino community has several barriers when they have a mental crisis because they would rather do anything else but to a psychiatrist or a hospital. They also mentioned the importance of the spread of information for those cultural communities.
The second half of the meeting was with Dr. Seshaan Ritman, who just graduated from the UCLA psychology program. Dr. Ritman explained that his role in the COVID-19 Equity Project is to provide mental health support to people and he helps them to meditate and to relax through breathing exercises. He made a breathing exercise for all the people that were there, just as an example of what he does.
The meeting finished with Dr. Ritman explaining the importance of meditation and that is very worthy to be in tune with your mind and body, and the other panelist remembering all the attendants the importance of mental health, no matter what is your cultural background. They also explained that they made this webinar as a reminder that they keep working and collaborating to help all folks whose mental health has been affected by the pandemic.