Our Story

Our Story

Latino Behavioral Health Services (LBHS) is a 501-C3 non-profit focused on providing behavioral health services to the Latinx community of Utah. Although LBHS now covers 6 counties and serves hundreds of people each year, Latino Behavioral started in the hearts and minds of two amazing Latina women who saw the need in their community and decided to take action.

Jacqueline Gomez-Arias, born in Colombia, was a person in long-term recovery who had a passion to help her community access and receive mental health services. Having her own negative experience with the mental health system, Jacqueline took it upon herself to organize and create a community of mental health advocates that spoke Spanish and understood the Latinx culture. Teresa Molina, born in Mexico, is a fierce and passionate woman in long-term recovery. Teresa met Jacqueline in their individual efforts to advocate for the Latinx community and joined forces to create a coalition of Latinx mental health advocates.

Soon after, Jacqueline and Teresa, along with other advocates, created NAMI Latino, a Latinx branch of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness), that dedicated its efforts to providing NAMI’s peer-based programs such as “Peer to Peer” and “Family to Family” in Spanish.

As NAMI Latino continued to expand and reach more and more community members, Leticia Frias and Margarita Gerardo, both women in long-term recovery, joined Teresa and Jacqueline to become the face and voices of this new movement. Through their powerful stories and lived experiences, these four extraordinary Latina women began eliminating the stigma behind mental health and substance. They began to empower their community through NAMI classes and their own peer-run support groups.

Eventually, the needs in the community became greater than what NAMI Latino could offer. They soon realized that in order to meet the Latinx community where they are at, they needed to expand and grow in another direction. After many meetings, debates, and conversations about how to address health disparities while also providing culturally and linguistically responsive services, the coalition of mental health advocates decided to create an organization dedicated to the Latinx community and its needs. Through the connections with the Westside Leadership Institute and the University of Utah, Teresa connected with Jules Martinez, then a student of the University of Utah, who began helping with the development of the structures needed to create an organization that could meet the needs of the community.

In 2013, Latino Behavioral Health Services was established as a nonprofit with Jacqueline Gomez-Arias, Teresa Molina, Leticia Frias, and Margarita Gerardo, as the cofounders of this grassroots organization

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