My name is Celeste Peralta and I am employed at The Next Door Inc. in Hood River, Oregon. When the COVID pandemic began, we wanted to create an effective method for providing community members, especially the Latinx community, with detailed information regarding the COVID pandemic, safety guidelines, COVID testing, vaccine resources, and mental health. Radio Tierra is a popular radio show amongst the Latinx community; therefore, we used that platform to host a program in Spanish called, Safe Living During a Pandemic. The show encouraged listeners to call and ask questions. The callers raised awareness regarding the community’s need to overcome mental health stigma and gain access to mental health resources. As a member of the Latinx community, I can tell you that asking for mental health assistance is almost unheard of. Mental illness is viewed as a sign of weakness and people think it’s a personal problem that should be kept quiet. There is a fear of being labeled “loco or loca” (crazy in Spanish).
To provide educational information and publicize resources for mental health, we worked with the Educational Outreach Productions team of The Next Door Inc. to create educational videos and radio dramas. The radio show had Counselors, Behavioral Health Experts, and Therapists as guest speakers. The show would get calls from people asking for mental health information, but they wouldn’t ask for themselves; they would ask on behalf of a friend or family member. I often heard people say, “I have a friend who is interested in this information,” and “Where can my uncle get this service,” and “My friend has the same symptoms as the person in the radio drama – how can they fix it?” The radio show allowed people to call anonymously. It gave people, who were afraid of being called loco/loca, the courage to call and ask for information. As the show continued to educate the community, calls increased and people started asking for information for themselves. The show is helping people embrace the idea that minds need help, just like the body, and asking for mental or emotional help does not mean you are “crazy”; it means you are smart, aware, and desire a high quality of life.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this beautiful experience. If you are interested in watching videos, listening to radio dramas, or soap operas, please visit The Next Door Inc online.