La Cultura Sana

Responder Program

Meeting the community where they are at with culturally relevant resources and education

The Cultura Sana (The Culture Cures) Responder Training and Outreach Program is here to provide education and resources to traditional and cultural mental health supports. Our main objectives are:

  1. Boosting their confidence in assisting clients who are facing mental health challenges.
  2. Creating a support network within the community, where people can rely on each other during tough emotional times, and together, resist unwanted hospitalizations due to legal concerns and wellness checks involving the police or legal system.

By the end of the training, participants will have

    • Defined the relationship between customer service and mental health support
    • Applied Community Care Techniques to support clients experiencing distress
    • Identified local and national resources and demonstrated an understanding of how to utilize them

The training portion of this program is free of cost, pending the receipt of a grant. As of 11/28/23, grants necessary to continue the program have not been received.


Ysabel Garcia talks with New England Public Media about the Cultura Sana program.


of people who attempted suicide in 2021 did not receive any mental health services in that time period

(Bommersbach, Rosenheck, Rhee, 2022)

50.6% higher

During February 21-March 20, 2021, suspected suicide attempts in Emergency Department (ED) visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12-17 years than during the same period in 2019. For boys aged 12-17 years, suspected suicide attempts in ED visits increased by 3.7%

(Yard, Radhakrishnan, Ballesteros, et al., 2021)


of participants who believed they were forced into psychiatric hospitalization were more likely to make a suicide attempt after discharge than those who did not.

(Jordan & McNiel, 2020)

Who are the Cultural Mental Health Responders?

Hairstylists & Barbers

Hairstylists and Barbers play an essential role in community mental health by increasing the client’s confidence about their looks and, most importantly, by offering empathy and a sense of belonging when clients talk about their problems. A hair session can help clients break their routine by socializing with people outside their work and taking time to focus on themselves (Fashion Gone Rogue, n.d.). For example, barbershops are essential places for Black people to talk about politics and relationships, which is often not possible in other areas, such as the church, due to the fear of judgment from others (Gentile, 2021).


Fashion Gone Rogue. (n.d.). Why going to the hair salon can help your mental health.
Gentile, B. (2021). A mental health focus at the barbershop.


Nail Technicians

Nail Technicians are specialists in grooming the hands, fingers, and toes. Their services offer stress relief through massages, warm water, and scrub exfoliation. They also give clients the option to show their creativity with nail art (Julinda’s Salon, 2018).


Julinda’s Salon. (2018). The benefits of manicures & pedicures.
Bartenders/Bar Servers

Bartenders mix and serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. While protecting clients from drinking excessively, they offer customers an space to talk freely. A 2010 study from Ohio University found that Bartenders play a vital role as guardians to war veterans, with 70% reporting that veterans usually speak to them about their issues (Chun, 2022).


Chun, C. (2022). Bartender: The accidental counsellors.

Librarians share information and help with referrals when needed. Their resource assistance is important because the internet does not always have trustworthy sources, and not everyone has stable internet connection or can buy expensive books. Also, libraries can help their customers learn skills for finding and using information of all types to promote wellbeing (Library Policy, 2018).


Library Policy. (2018). Spaces, skills, and resources: How libraries support mental health.
Tattoo Artists

Tattoo Artists design and ink writings or images on their clients’ skin. Tattooing is a way of appreciating individuality and self-love. For example, getting a tattoo can help people reclaim their bodies from a physical disease. Tattoos can also represent a celebration of survival, recognition of a loved one who has passed away, and a reminder of hope. Lastly, tattoos can help people feel better about their looks; they can cover scars and/or decorate the body just like makeup and jewelry (Miller, 2020).


Miller, K. (2020). The mental health benefits of tattoos, according to psychologists.

Doulas provide physical, emotional, and informational help to mothers during pregnancy, child delivery, and shortly after birth. They create an open and safe space where those expecting can share their stress and fears during pregnancy. Doulas are also trained to lower pain relief medication use during labor, C-sections, labor time, and overall negative childbirth experiences (Tobah, 2021).


Tobah, Y. B. (2021). What are the benefits of having a doula? 
Herbalists use natural remedies involving plants and herbs to treat many conditions. The plants and herbs suggested by herbalists can help reduce stress, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fatigue. Also, herbalism is usually less expensive than medications (Integrated Counseling and Wellness, n.d.).


Integrated Counseling and Wellness. (n.d.). Natural herbal remedies.
Massage Therapists

Massage Therapists apply gentle or strong pressure to the joints and muscles to lower pain and tension. A massage gives customers an emotional break that lowers stress hormones and improves happiness. Refreshing sounds are played in most message places to create a sense of relaxation. Lastly, the conversation between the therapist and customer offers deeper emotional support (Medical Heath Center, 2016).


Medical Health Center. (2016). Massage therapy for mental well-being.
School Bus Monitors

School Bus Monitors help students understand and follow the school bus safety rules during the bus route. They usually create a good connection with the children and their caregivers. The children might look up to the Monitors as authority figures and see them as people they can go to for help. Because they are trained to deal with emergencies, harm, or injury, they help parents feel less nervous about their child’s safety. Monitors also solve student conflicts and disagreements by interrupting bullying, harassment, and violence (Video Communications, n.d.).


Video Communications. (n.d.). Special education school bus monitors: Roles and responsibilities.
Personal Trainers

Personal Trainers help their customers reach their physical goals through exercise and healthier diets. These exercises supports natural, feel-good chemicals while lowering stress-related chemicals (Bruce, 2020).


Bruce, D. (2020). WebMD, Exercise and depression.
House Cleaners

House Cleaning Providers offer professional cleaning to homes and apartments. They create a sense of trust with homeowners to deliver their services because they can notice private things that cause embarrassment, such as dirtiness caused by children, fatigue, disability, etc. The cleanliness they offer is connected to less anxiety, depression, and fatigue (Gordon, 2021).


Gordon, S. (2021). The relationship between mental health and cleaning.
Funeral Homes

Funeral Home Staff offer several services, including setting timelines for visitations, helping families identify their deceased members’ bodies, and planning the best send-off to give to the deceased loved one. A funeral service supports the mental health of grievers by bringing people together who care about each other, acknowledging the reality that someone in their life has died, and creating a space where beliefs and feelings are as important as words (Palmer Bush & Jensen, n.d.).


Palmer Bush & Jensen (n.d.). The benefits of a funeral service.

Florists sell, grow, and arrange flowers and plants. The color and smell of flowers can help increase positive mood. Especially, sending and receiving flowers helps colleagues, friends, and family reconnect and show love toward each other. Flowers can also help those feeling sick get better. For example, patients recovering in the hospital with flowers in their room feel less anxious than patients without flowers. Lastly, when organizing flowers, our breathing and heart rate slows down, helping us feel less stressed (Reynolds, 2020).


Reynolds, B. (n.d.). Flowers can have a positive impact on mental health.

La Cultura Sana Pop-Ups

La Cultura Sana Pop-Ups consists of an interactive tabling experience with a variety of suicide prevention resources and giveaways. The purpose is to meet community members at key social and cultural sites that they often visit to make suicide prevention information as accessible as possible.