Improving Access to Behavioral and Mental Health Services for Latinx Children in NC (2022-2023)

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently declared a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health due to pandemic-related stressors. Latinx communities in the U.S. bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-related morbidity and mortality, and have lacked adequate access to testing, healthcare and vaccination services. Latinx children likely experience a substantial mental health burden in this context.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized, there are far-reaching structural inequities that contribute to disparities in access to and quality of health care. This project team conducted a qualitative study to understand the current landscape of mental and behavioral healthcare access in the North Carolina pediatric Latinx population, address barriers and identify solutions for support. 

Team members interviewed primary care providers and medical interpreters in North Carolina and identified key themes, namely the need to tailor mental healthcare with cultural humility, a gap between medical providers and interpreters and a lack of system-level accountability for healthcare workers. The project team created recommendations to address each of these themes and produced a policy memo to be shared with primary care providers and policymakers. They then began work on a manuscript for publication.


Summer 2022 – Summer 2023 

Team Outputs

Understanding Barriers to Mental Health Services (2023 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Improving Access to Behavioral and Mental Health Services for Latinx Children in North Carolina (poster by Francisco Banda, Anna de Pourtales, Elaijah Lapay, Sue-Ann Maynard, Vibhav Nandagiri, Sabrina Takemoto-Spraggins, Karina Vasudeva, Olivia Ferris, Sarahi Robles, Stephanie Stan, Rushina Cholera, Jeylan Close, Michelle Franklin, Greeshma James and Andrea Thoumi, presented at Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 19, 2023)

Policy memo

This Team in the News

Student Spotlight: Elaijah Lapay ’24

Elaijah Lapay: 2023 Recipient of the Lars Lyon Community Service Award

Duke NCSP Scholar-Led Bass Connections Teams Present Research Findings

See earlier related team, NC Early Childhood Action Plan: Evidence-based Policy Solutions (2021-2022).


Image: Young girl holding adult person's hand, by Nenad Stojkovic, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Holding hands.

Team Leaders

  • Rushina Cholera, School of Medicine-Pediatrics: Primary Care Pediatrics
  • Jeylan Close, School of Medicine– Psychiatry
  • Michelle Franklin, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Andrea Thoumi, Margolis Center for Health Policy

/graduate Team Members

  • Olivia Ferris, Juris Doctor
  • Sarahi Robles, Masters of Public Policy
  • Stephanie Stan, PPS Non-degree

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Francisco Banda, Psychology (AB)
  • Elaijah Lapay, Program II (AB)
  • Sue-Ann Maynard, NCCU Student
  • Vibhav Nandagiri, Biology (BS)
  • Sabrina Takemoto-Spraggins, Psychology (BS)
  • Anna de Pourtales, Interdepartmental Major

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Marsha Basloe, Child Care Services Association
  • LATIN-19
  • Karina Vasudeva, Undergraduate Student, UNC-Chapel Hill