Johnson: Language justice inspires the community | VailDaily.com

Johnson: Language justice inspires the community

Carol Johnson
Special to the Daily

Mountain Youth would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed to the Nov. 5 and 6 inaugural Latinx Eat Chat Parent events. Many organizations and individuals came together with one goal in mind: breaking mental health stigmas and providing community conversation within our Latinx community in their native language.

“Therapy vs Reinventing Yourself, Alternativas a la Terapia Conversacional: Reinventate” was the title of both events (one upvalley and one downvalley) that focused on approaches beyond traditional therapy. Calling a local therapist and booking an appointment is not always the right solution for those who are experiencing behavioral health issues, and this event’s main focus discussed alternate options. 

Almost 200 participants learned about resiliency and received therapeutic strategies from Dr. Janina Fariñas. As a Latinx mental health expert and founder of L’Ancla and La Cocina in Fort Collins, Fariñas’ engaging and personal style provided an appropriate setting in which all who attended felt comfortable sharing their stories of struggles and hopes.

There was an incredible feeling of community that rose to the surface leaving many wanting more after the event was over. Several Latinx attendees shared their excitement for the opportunity to have the presentation delivered in their native language and not have to wear the interpretation headsets as has always been done in the past. 

“I liked all the information on how to work with stress and resilience,” one attendee said.

“I liked that it was totally in Spanish,” said another.

Interestingly, several attendees who are Eat Chat Parent “regulars” donned headsets to receive interpretation into English. Language justice goes both ways and these events helped demonstrate that critical need in our community.

“It’s good to learn about mental health and I really liked that there was a presenter in Spanish … any time you can do something out of your comfort zone and put yourself in someone else’s shoes it widens your perspective and makes you a better human being,” said another attendee.

Mountain Youth was very intentional to also include local, culturally relevant resources to complement Dr. Farinas’ keynote. Additional speakers included doctoral candidate Juliana Milles-Torres, who is currently interning with Bright Future Foundation, as well as Gerry Lopez, the youth outreach coordinator for Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and Olga Wilkins, Eagle Valley family engagement coordinator with the Family Resource Center. 

Lastly, an enormous thank you to the St. Clare and St. Mary’s parishes for opening their doors and spreading the word to their parishioners about the events. Alpine Bank’s Latinx financial support complemented Eat Chat Parent’s presenting sponsor, Vail Health and Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. Eagle County Commissioners and the Total Health Alliance 1A mental health funds are also a major funder of this series. Additional supporters include Vail Resorts Epic Promise, Vail Valley Cares, The Inn at Riverwalk, the Slifer Foundation, the towns of Vail, Avon and Gypsum, Eagle River Foundation, the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health and SAMHSA.

Without the generosity of all of these organizations, the free Eat Chat Parent mental health events would not be possible. Eat Chat Parent and our supporters will continue to break mental health stigmas one community conversation at a time. We hope you will join us for our next conversation on January 14 and 15 2020: “Protecting Our Children and Youth from Sexual Abuse.” The keynote speaker is a nationally renowned expert, Elizabeth Jeglic, PhD. from John Jay University and frequent Psychology Today author.  She will present age-appropriate tips for elementary-aged children up to teenagers and guide parents to have these awkward and tough discussions at home. Please visit http://www.mountainyouth.org to learn more.

Carol Johnson is the community education manager for Mountain Youth. Email her at cjohnson@mountainyouth.org.