February 4, 2022
Nueva Vida, 2021 Mental Health Fund Grantee
In 2021, Nueva Vida received a two-year grant totaling $30,000 from the Mental Health Fund, a permanent community endowment at the Community Foundation dedicated to the mental health and well-being of all members of the Northern Virginia community. The grant helped Nueva Vida design and implement the Más Fuertes Juntos (Stronger Together) program – a mental health intervention program to assess the emotional well-being and health-related quality of life for uninsured Latinos across Northern Virginia, with a targeted focus in Prince William County.
“The demand for culturally tailored mental health services is a critical need for the overwhelmed uninsured Latino community. Forever funding can help close the vast gaps in equitable mental health care and provide recent Latino immigrants support as they face traumatic exposures of migration, PTSD, depression and stress associated with the immigration experience and the challenges of integration vs. marginalization in the US.”
-Laura A. Logie, PhD, Director of Research, Nueva Vida.

Nueva Vida was founded in 1999 by a group of Latina health professionals to fill the gap for culturally sensitive bilingual support services for the Latino community. It offers support to a number of systemic barriers often faced by the underinsured and un-insured in the Latino community, including cultural, linguistic, access to health care, and psychosocial barriers.

With a primary focus on supporting individuals and their families whose lives have been affected by cancer, Nueva Vida’s new Más Fuertes Juntos program has a broader audience, with an intention to support all of Prince William County’s adult Latino population (23% - the largest majority minority community in the county) with mental health struggles.

Nueva Vida’s clients face unique barriers in seeking and accessing mental health. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the overwhelming gaps in equitable health and mental health support have highlighted the larger issues of medical mistrust and fear compounding the fragility and overwhelmed uninsured Latino community. When this is coupled by a system with professionals largely untrained in Latino culture with limited numbers who speak Spanish, this often results in miscommunication and mistrust.

Nueva Vida’s team of mental health professionals are uniquely positioned to support a myriad of concerns in the Latino community including anxiety, trauma, depression, anger, stigma, substance abuse, domestic violence, and spiritualist belief systems.

These are the topics that the organization has begun to present in the first year of its Más Fuertes Juntos program. To date, Nueva Vida offered workshops on subjects such as health, happiness and quality of life; emotional intelligence; seasonal depression; and healthy lifestyles. During the sessions, participants were encouraged to share their experiences and doubts and to support each other.

One participant, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, shared the following story detailing the impact this program has already had on her life.

*Maria is 53 years old, and immigrated from Mexico five years ago. She was referred to Nueva Vida from the Greater Prince William Community Health Center because she felt unable to breathe well. Upon evaluation, they discovered that she had non-cancerous nodules in her lungs.

When she first started participating in the Más Fuertes Juntos program, she was a little shy. However, her confidence grew and she began to share about her life experiences – stories of suffering, pain, and stress in her youth since she lived in war areas in Central America. The program gave her tools to manage stress, overcome pain, and open up to other people which have allowed her to begin to heal. She has been sleeping better, doing relaxation exercises over the weeks, improved her interpersonal relationships, and has even been motivated to start a new work venture. Her growth and experience have inspired other program participants to make significant changes in their own lifestyles.

The Community Foundation’s support through its Mental Health Fund has made these transformations possible and will continue to support Nueva Vida’s ability to positively impact the mental health and well-being of its clients in Prince William County.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, the Community Foundation is raising funds for this fund to be matched one to one through March 18, 2022 to help build the permanent endowment that will forever support mental health throughout our region and make more stories like this possible.