La Cocina provides much-needed understanding and mental health care to the Latinx community

“I didn’t know what to do or where to go,” Gonzalez continued. In desperation, she said she decided to open up to her employer at the time, La Cocina.

Cocine is a not-for-profit mental health care clinic. They are Latinx based, Latinx lead and Latinx serving.

The founder and CEO of La Cocina, Janina Farinotlike, Ph.D.

The literal translation of La Cocina is “the kitchen”. The story of their name comes from Agricultural Workers Movement with Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. “They used to organize in the kitchens…and they would often close their meetings saying, ‘All revolutions start in the kitchen,'” La Cocina founder and CEO Janina Fari said.notlike, Ph.D.

La Cocina started after the 2016 election when they noticed the rising rates of anxiety and depression among immigrant groups. Their team now includes over 17 professionals, including trained psychologists, counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, mentors and educators, and health promoters.

As an organization, they serve nine counties in Colorado. So far, La Cocina claims to have facilitated mental health recovery for more than 1,000 Latinx families. Their multidisciplinary teams have grown to include trainers and program managers.

“People believe that the mental health of our community was much worse than that of white communities. But that’s really a misconception,” Fari said.notas.

“In the Latinx community, people are getting too many diagnoses of mental illness. That’s true for some groups, but when it comes to children with developmental disabilities or children with a non-neurotypical developmental presentation, one of the things that happens is that they’re underdiagnosed said Fari.notas.

She said people in schools might notice something different with the child, but because the child is bilingual or monolingual Spanish-speaking, Farinotas said, they might not talk about it and think it will work out.

“The problem with this view is that there is a very big difference between being bilingual and having needs that are perhaps different from those of the other children in the school. This pattern, she said, is what leads many families like Gonzalez’s to go undiagnosed for a long time.

As bilingual and multicultural people themselves, the professionals at La Cocina can see where the child may need additional support.

“There is an important role for us at La Cocina to collaborate with school systems so that we can prevent this,” Fari said.notas.

This is one of their main missions at La Cocina: to ensure that families are supported and receive the help they need.

“This piece about allowing our community to really define for themselves what the healing journey is, which needs to be centered,” Fari said.notas.

La Cocina accepts referrals from other agencies and people can also call them directly. Services are completely free and La Cocina offers a variety of programs, including some for new parents.

“It was a blessing for me to have them. They not only helped me fight for my son, but they also helped me fight for my own sanity,” Gonzalez said.

La Cocina supported her through the transition to the new school, taught her about her son’s rights as a student with special needs, and also gave him therapy sessions for a year.

“I got to the point where I can now talk about it, there was a time when I was crying,” Gonzalez said. She gives huge credit to her support system with La Cocina. “They are now my family; I love them and feel completely comfortable and empowered around them.

Sonia Gutierrez is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at [email protected].

Julio Sandoval is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at [email protected].

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