Latina Friends Motivating the Soul
Amigas Latinas Motivando el ALMA (ALMA) is grant-funded program of the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.
As immigrating Latinos adapt to the mainstream culture of the United States, they face enormous mental and physical stressors with limited resources to address them. Some of these stressors include shifting cultural practices, geographic and linguistic isolation, lack of awareness of resources, and loss of family and social support. As the Latino population in North Carolina grows, culturally sensitive prevention strategies and interventions are needed immediately for optimal health, especially as it relates to addressing mental health.
Amplifying impact upon the public's health
Amigas Latinas Motivando el ALMA (ALMA) is a collaborative research project between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Sheps Center for Health Services Research and Duke Division of Community Health. The two universities have pooled resources, expertise, and creative energies to decrease health disparities among Latina immigrants. Focused on promoting emotional health and reducing mental health stressors for Latinas in North Carolina counties, ALMA expects to reduce sub-clinical anxiety and depressive symptoms for Latinas by:
- increasing knowledge and awareness of depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress, and coping strategies among Latinas; and
- normalizing stress, self-care, and support in a group setting through skills development and modeling.
Train the trainer
ALMA is a peer education intervention that uses trained supervised Latinas as lay health advisors (promotoras). The promotoras offer coping skills, knowledge, and support to Latinas in homes and neighborhoods. Peer-to-peer support offers a culturally competent and cost-effective way to reduce emotional stress among a vulnerable population of new Latina immigrants.
Promotoras are taught mental health and coping skills through training sessions using a curriculum that is linguistically and culturally appropriate to the Latina population in central North Carolina. The curriculum focuses on skill-building to help in dealing with anxiety and sadness. It addresses common experiences of immigration, family reorganization and the challenges of adapting to a new culture.
Using promotoras to promote behavior change
Trained promotoras share their newly acquired skills with Latina peers they identify to reinforce positive coping strategies and facilitate healthy behavior change. Mental health professionals dedicated to ALMA provide direct mental health services for those Latinas who need support beyond the capacity of promotoras. The relationships, skills, and social networks developed through ALMA's peer educators are expected to demonstrate a sustainable, community-based, culturally competent model for communities to continue promoting mental health among Latinas.
For more information:
Division of Community Health
Department of Community and Family Medicine
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710