Eighteen USF students have embarked on a study abroad trip in Lima, Perú with School of Social Work faculty Jerome Galea, PhD, MSW; Chris Simmons, PhD, LCSW; and Melissa Thompson, MSW, LCSW. The USF Perú - Global Health and Mental Health Practice program gives students hands-on experience in the field of global mental health working with Socios En Salud, the local branch of the internationally recognized nonprofit health organization, Partners in Health.
Lead by Galea, this program focuses on addressing mental health morbidity through a social justice lens. Students have the opportunity to interact with and experientially learn about the socio-cultural context of indigenous people's physical and mental health.
During the trip, students toured a community mental health center in Carabayllo, the largest district in Lima. Students also participated in home visits with patients who have schizophrenia and depression alongside Socios En Salud staff and community workers.
Students visit a community mental health center in Carabayllo, Perú.
"Being able to enter the homes of the locals that utilize the services here really opened my eyes to the Peruvians and their mental health," said undergraduate student Alexa Edney. "It also made me reflect on those who are going through the same struggles back at home and what we as social workers can do to make the lives of others less chaotic. It is uncomfortable to be put in a place where you do not know what to expect but comfort is not how you will grow. I want to learn and understand what this country has to offer."
The students also worked with Socios En Salud to provide physical and mental health screenings for Venezuelan refugee children and their families. Students rotated through different stations and assisted with COVID testing, depression screenings, and TB screenings.
Students provided medical services alongside Socios En Salud.
“It is not easy for a migrant family to move to a new country and adapt to the new culture," explained undergraduate student Paul Muñoz. "It is essential as social workers to offer mental health services to this population so they may adjust to their new homes. As humans, we must comprehend that some folks migrate in search of hope. Empathy is a must, and how we receive immigrants to our country (US or Peru) must be with compassion and a welcoming mindset for a healthier community, society, and world.”