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Project Title

A School-based Mental Health Program for Immigrant Latino Youth in a New Destination City

Project Summary

Purpose: To pilot a school-based intervention addressing trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in immigrant Latino students in Baltimore City.

Methods: Teen Testimonios (TT) was developed to address the unique stressors of immigrant Latino youth in Baltimore City given a lack of bilingual mental healthcare resources. The curriculum was informed by the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) and tailored to emphasize shared experiences such as migration processes, family reunification, acculturation, and race relations. The curriculum consisted of 14 group sessions and one individual session. In this single-arm observational pilot testing of TT, participants (selected based on the Child PTSD Symptom Scale [CPSS]) attended closed, weekly group sessions during school hours. The CPSS was re-administered at the program’s conclusion to assess symptom change.

Results: Bilingual social workers and therapists with experience in trauma and PTSD facilitated groups. Facilitators hosted 14 groups at 10 schools for 90 students overall. Data were available for 13 groups (84 students). Participants were predominantly middle school aged (67%), female (60%) and in the Baltimore City Public School system for 2 years or fewer (75%). Mean attendance at group sessions was 77%. Participants reported a mean reduction of 20% (95% CI 8%-30%) in PTSD symptoms  using the CPSS.

Conclusions: A school-based, culturally- and contextually-tailored intervention addressing PTSD and trauma is feasible and acceptable, and may reduce PTSD symptoms among immigrant Latino youth at high risk of mental health problems who may otherwise lack access to mental health services.

Project Details

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Principal InvestigatorFunder
Polk, Sarah – MD, ScMUrban Health Institute, Centro SOL
DepartmentProject Start Date
Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine9/1/2015
Co – Principal InvestigatorProject End Date
Other Co – Principal InvestigatorsTeam Members
N/AGuerrero Vazquez, Monica – MPH,MS
Haber, Eric – LSW


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