Laura Tiburcio-Santos is tackling an under-valued problem in underrepresented communities: mental-health. After immigrating to the United States in 2013, Tiburcio-Santos faced her own mental-health crisis as a result of culture shock and assimilation pressures. After learning how to navigate American culture and multiple attempts to find adequate self-help groups, Tiburcio-Santos realized the importance of providing immigrants with culturally competent mental-health services.
Prior to joining the U, Tiburcio-Santos helped run defense campaigns and was an advocate of immigrants’ rights at Communities United. She then joined the University of Utah’s College of Social Work in 2018. Her mission became to bring the conversation of mental health to people going through the process of immigration to avoid what she had experienced.
“Once people come here, they have to learn the language, the system, and how the culture works,” she said. “That takes a toll on your physical, mental health, and overall well-being. That’s why it’s important to find culturally competent services — because it makes a huge difference.”
During her studies, she was able to conduct research with Teresa Molina for the program evaluation for the case management certificate to work on the design of the study and gather literature to be presented to the IRB. Additionally, Tiburcio-Santos volunteered for Communities United and frequently visited the Mexican consulate to talk to individuals being processed about their mental health.
Tiburcio-Santos volunteers at the Latino Behavioral Health Services (LBHS) while pursuing her master’s in social work at the University of Utah. LBHS provides individuals with programs and services, and helps link them to organizations that can fulfill their needs.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2022 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.