Torofy Blog

Depression and Heart Disease

Peer Navigators for Latinos with Serious Mental Illness


What we’re particularly interested in is
peers, peers are two kinds of people: one is from the same ethnic group, so the project
we have with PCORI was looking at Latino peer navigators and we compared
that to treatment as usual. But the other thing about peers that’s really
important is they are people in recovery from serious mental illness, so they are people
with histories of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, who have been where the research participant
is, and knows what it means to walk them around this fragmented system. This study is important to me because I was,
I would not say born, but I’ve had mental illness, PTSD, and depression that I’ve
battled with for a very long time and I felt at a point in my life I was voiceless, and
there’s a lot of people out there who feel the same, and so I feel like this study definitely
shows a light on what people can do in the professional field. What peer navigators are going to do is help
those Latinos and Latinas walk around the system and take advantage of it, and the study
we did shows that, that they’re getting more appointments, they’re filling the appointments,
the navigator might go into the doctor’s meeting with the patient, and as a result,
patients report themselves feeling healthier, a better sense of recovery and empowerment. I feel like my involvement, I was really a
I’m a really focused, determined person, and passionate, so a lot of people felt like
they could trust me when they talk to me, and so building the trust of the
community is very important and it turned out to be successful. I’m not Latino, so I don’t know what it
means to be Latino in Chicago, two is I don’t necessarily live a life as someone with serious
mental illness, and so you need partners like Marilyn to tell their story, but you need
partners like that even for more important reason which is typically when researchers
are done, we put our ideas on a shelf, you need ownership from the community, because
it’s people like Marilyn and Sonya who are going to take our bright ideas and go out
to legislators, and go out to Congress members, to try to get them actually put into policy.

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