Seven Year Old Erica Teaches Us Why Bilingual Mental Health Services are Crucial

Roxana Cordova, Jewish Family Service’s bilingual social worker consulting with mother of Erica about her behavior. Photo credit: Tanzi Propst

Seven year-old Erica kept getting in trouble in school, and her family was looking for help. Why did she respond physically whenever she was provoked?

The family’s first language is Spanish, and until recently, bilingual mental health services were hard to come by in greater Park City. But in 2018, Park City Community Foundation helped channel funding from the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust to Jewish Family Service to create a new bilingual counseling position.

Jewish Family Service hired Roxana Cordova, CSW, who provides counseling in Spanish in Park City three days a week. Through word of mouth, Erica’s family found out about Roxana and asked for her help.

Roxana saw Erica for several counseling sessions. Roxana also used her broader community contacts and had the school do an assessment, where it was discovered that Erica had ADHD. Roxana helped the family understand the need for—and to obtain—medication to help manage the ADHD.

Even more important, Erica loved the skills she learned in her sessions with Roxana, from meditation to learning how to talk about feelings and how to ask for help.

Erica’s mother was recently called to the school about a fight. Fearing it was once again Erica’s doing, she was relieved and encouraged to find out that this time, it wasn’t Erica’s fault. Another child had been pulling Erica’s hair, and Erica didn’t retaliate. She sought out an adult, described her feelings, and asked for help – and the adult helped resolve the conflict. With Roxana having provided her with language to talk about how she feels, Erica has new tools that allow her to respond in a new way.

Jewish Family Service’s bilingual counseling has been so successful that they have a waiting list—and they are ready to address it. With funding from existing donors and from a donor-advised fund at Park City Community Foundation, they will soon hire a second bilingual counselor who will serve local clients five days a week, and they have moved into a new, larger Park City office to accommodate the increased services.

In 2017, Park City Community Foundation helped bring together the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance, with a goal of creating system-wide improvements in mental health and substance use services across our region. One of the top priorities—ensuring sufficient services for Spanish speakers—has seen substantial progress, thanks to Jewish Family Service and other local providers.

When the Community Foundation convenes the community to address major needs and opportunities, solutions arise, funding flows, and people benefit—as did Erica and her family—in deep and sustainable ways.

Do you have a passion or interest in advancing mental wellness in our community? Learn more about the work being done by the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance, or donate now by clicking HERE.

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