Tu Apoyo (Your Support)
This week’s blog was written by Gia Quiñones with the Spartanburg Area Mental Health Office.
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The Pandemic has shed a light on the disparities faced by marginalized communities and people of color. The effects of COVID-19 have hit Latinx communities hard, both physically and emotionally, and many Latinx immigrants are finding themselves experiencing high levels of stress and worry.
A Dedicated Spanish Language Support Line
The South Carolina Department of Mental Health, along with the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, launched a toll-free mental health and addiction support line in June to help the community during these difficult days. SCDMH realized the need to expand the outreach and, through internal discussions and external partnerships, developed a tool to offer emotional support and referral to community services to the Latinx population in South Carolina. This led to the development and launch of Tu Apoyo, a dedicated Spanish-language line that Latinx individuals can call their own.
The Goal of Tu Apoyo
The goal of the Tu Apoyo line is to bring hope to the Latinx communities, provide emotional support and connect them to resources available in their area and, if necessary, refer them to mental health services or substance use treatment. The Program aims to address the increased rates of anxiety and depression that have developed within the Latinx community since the Pandemic started. It is so important to have this resource for the Latinx immigrant communities, as language access barriers influence people’s decisions to seek all types of healthcare, including mental health services. Many members of the Latinx community have concerns about immigration status and fear of being labelled a public charge. These are additional barriers to receiving help, and knowing that a dedicated Spanish language line will not ask for one’s personal information can create a sense of comfort and safety.
The Need for Support
COVID-19 has shown disparities among marginalized groups but also how well we come together as a community to assist and support one another during difficult times. The Tu Apoyo team is ready to provide non-clinical emotional support, listen to the concerns and necessities of individuals, and make referrals to community resources as needed. Our team understands the Latinx culture; they are aware of the barriers and the struggles many Latinx immigrant communities are facing, and, most importantly, they speak Spanish fluently.
Through greater accessibility, we hope the Tu Apoyo line will bring more mental health awareness into the Latinx communities, open the door for more discussions about the importance of mental health, and bring us a step closer to normalizing seeking emotional support and mental health services among Latinxs. We also hope this initiative will empower the Latinx community and make them feel seen, heard, and to know that their voices matter.
How to Access
Tu Apoyo, based out of SCDMH’s Spartanburg Area Mental Health Center, is available statewide from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers can remain anonymous, no personal identifying information is collected, and the number is toll-free in South Carolina.