Caption: Pictured left to right are Alberto Ardaya, Interpreting Services Supervisor at For All Seasons, and Ivy Garcia, Director of Latino Services at For All Seasons.
Local behavioral health and rape crisis center For All Seasons prepared for an influx of need for services from the Latino community at the onset of the pandemic; they were ready. But, few were calling.
The Latino community, disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, experienced greater job loss and higher positivity rates, in addition to higher levels of intimate partner violence. Pre-pandemic, Latino teens in the Mid-Shore community experienced forced sexual intercourse at rates nearly double the overall population. And during times of crisis, inequities related to social determinants of health are magnified.
Using funds from a grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, For All Seasons began a push to make sure everyone, including all Spanish-language speakers, knew about their services at seven sites across the Mid-Shore and how to access them. More Latino families and individuals began to reach out. Sometimes, therapy can begin with an urgent mental health need from one family member and end up with others needing support as well. Such was the case for a Latino family who was referred to the organization by a local health department. The mother, Luciana, shared her story in a recent interview:
When I was eight years old, I witnessed my mother committing suicide. I then had to go from one house to another, living with relatives and never finishing school after the fourth grade. That is when all the abuse began for me – sexual and physical abuse and neglect. I came from a very dysfunctional family, and I carried this trauma with me for many, many years.
When I had my own daughter, I hoped for a better life. My daughter started having behavioral and learning issues in school. She tried to take her own life three times between the ages of 10 and 15. During this time, I had to stay home with her to be sure she did not attempt to hurt herself again. For almost a year, her behaviors got so bad that they were disrupting our family’s life. We were referred to For All Seasons for therapy. This was when our family discovered that my daughter had been molested by a family member. The therapy at For All Seasons helped us to begin the healing process.
I realized that I had to tell my childhood story to my therapist. The therapy showed me that my husband needed help too. He was willing to come to family therapy sometimes but would not commit to going on his own. Therapy helped me a great deal and kept our family going. Without the support, our family would have been destroyed. Our lives would be so different today. Through our therapy, my daughter and I have learned to express our feelings, and communication between us has improved. Because For All Seasons is committed to providing services regardless of one’s ability to pay, we were able to receive the support we greatly needed.
Now, I can help my daughter learn to express herself and make decisions for herself that will benefit her and give her a happier life. I was not able to have this kind of help when I was young, but I can give this to my daughter now. She is now 17 years old, and she will graduate in June 2022.
I still worry about things, but not as much as I feared in the past. I feel more prepared now.
I have the desire to lead now for my family and other people at work. I share my story with my co-workers and with the many other women who suffer from similar problems. I tell them, ‘You do not have to suffer alone. You can get help.’ I recently referred an older man to For All Seasons because he wanted to take his own life. I provided a business card, and now he talks about living for the sake of his grandchildren. I will continue to give this message of hope to others.
For All Seasons, with support from the CareFirst grant, was able to provide the highest quality mental health and victim services to Latino individuals and families across the region, regardless of ability to pay. Luciana continues to attend therapy with her daughter. She expresses her deep gratitude for the support and services that helped her grow stronger in the face of so many challenges.
For All Seasons provides the highest quality mental health and victim services to children, adults, and families across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Services are offered in both English and Spanish and include therapy, psychiatry, victim advocacy, 24-hour crisis hotlines, outreach, and community education. For further information, contact For All Seasons at 410-822-1018 or visit forallseasonsinc.org.