Improving the mental health of Latino youth
Professor Silvia Bigatti is concerned about the high rate of depression among Latino adolescents in Indianapolis who endure the stress of straddling two cultures. In 2012, she started a partnership with the Latino Health Organization and received funding from the Indiana Minority Health Coalition to pursue a pilot research project that investigated the stress and depressive outcomes in this population. The study revealed that nearly 60 percent of participants had some form of depressive symptoms—and that they were seven times more likely to have depression if they suffered from moderate levels of acculturative stress. Based on the ¬findings, the research team developed a program, “Your Life. Your Story.” The YLYS program begins with a one-week summer day camp that builds resilience and develops self-identities and future goals. In the second phase of the YLYS program, a monthly meeting cements components from the camp. Data suggest that one week of the YLYS camp has a statistically significant impact on participants, who showed an increase in resilience and a decrease in depressive symptoms. These differences were maintained at a six-month follow-up. YLYS has the potential to create a large and lasting impact on the Indianapolis community. While the program has been focused on Latino youth, it can be applied and tailored to any group of youth. Professor Bigatti’s work to improve the mental health of Latino youth in Indianapolis is another example of how IUPUI faculty are TRANSLATING RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE.