Population Health

January 10, 2019

Latina immigrants practice mindfulness together to combat depression and anxiety

Participants practicing yoga during an ALMA pilot sessionA University of Washington Latino Center for Health project encourages self-soothing techniques as part of a mindfulness program that helps Latina immigrant women build coping skills to combat depression and anxiety, which they face at higher rates than other ethnic groups.

Called Amigas Latinas Motivando el Alma (ALMA), or Latina Friends Motivating the Spirit, the program was developed by India Ornelas, associate professor in the Department of Health Services at the School of Public Health and research director for the Latino Center for Health and a team of investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

After three successful pilots of ALMA, Ornelas received a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to refine and rigorously evaluate the program at multiple sites in western Washington.

When the next iteration of ALMA rolls out , the program will reach a total of 200 women in eight different groups. The randomized control design will allow Ornelas and her colleagues to test whether ALMA improves symptoms of depression and anxiety, and how those are affected by factors such as social support, coping skills and stress.

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