Hispanic Community Meeting Focuses On Mental Health

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Following a successful all-day Mental Health First Aid program held June 13 at Laurel Park, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association on Aug. 24 hosted a two-hour session geared toward the racing community’s hispanic population.

MTHA Counseling Director Jessica Hammond reached out to Maria Winters, who co-led the June event—designed to teach participants how to provide support for persons in need—and asked if she could return to Laurel. Winters, a licensed clinical professional counselor, agreed to return and brought Spanish-language materials.

Winters discussed life on the backstretch of a racetrack, ways for employees to take care of their mental health and the mental health of others, and cultural stigmas.

“Mental health is health,” Hammond said. “We have a large Hispanic population on the backstretch and I felt that more needed to be done to reach out to them. Maria is a bilingual psychologist from Venezuela and she is a very engaging speaker. I had her come in and present completely in Spanish to discuss life on the backstretch, ways for people to help themselves and each other all while keeping cultural considerations in mind.”

The event was well-attended, and Hammond indicated she may arrange for Winters to hold similar sessions periodically.