At a meeting of the Siler City Board of Commissioners a few weeks ago, Isa Godinez and Jorge Gutiérrez of the UNC-Chapel Hill Latino Migration Project presented the Building Integrated Communities plan.
The plan aims to help local government engage with immigrant and refugee populations to improve economic development, livability and community relationships. One of the key areas for improvement cited in the presentation was youth mental health. This piqued our interest, so we decided to dig further.
For Latino students in Siler City, where the 2010 Census put the number of Hispanics at nearly 50 percent, even reaching out for mental health care can be a challenge.
Margaret Grayson, a guidance counselor at Jordan-Matthews High School, where nearly 60 percent of students are Hispanic, said many students fear the response from the parents or guardians when seeking out mental health services.
“Students will say to me ‘I’m so afraid my parents will be mad about this’ or ‘They’re not going to hear me. They’re not going to validate or understand what I’m going through,’” Grayson said. “That’s a very delicate process, just managing all of that—bringing the student and the family together and helping the family to understand where the student is and what kind of help the students need.”
Grayson said she’s seen an increase in mental-health referrals at the school in recent years.