Wednesday, January 09, 2008

[indyweek] El Futuro: Helping to heal minds, building confianza with Latinos

by Matt Saldaña
Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
November 21, 2007

As a "white boy from Arkansas" who attended high school in the late '80s and early '90s, Luke Smith heard some then-unconventional wisdom from his father: "You're going to learn that, boy, because everybody's going to be speaking it one day."

Smith's father was referring to Spanish, the language—and accompanying culture—his son would later embrace as executive director of El Futuro, a nonprofit mental health center dedicated to treating the state's underserved, and largely uninsured, Latino population. In 2004, Smith founded the center, based in Carrboro, to pool the efforts of therapists and psychiatrists who were versed in the language and culture of area Latinos, many of whom had never sought treatment for serious addictions and psychiatric illnesses.

In the past three months alone, El Futuro has served 123 new patients and logged more than 750 visits to their Siler City and Carrboro offices, where staff members treat everything from immigration-related trauma and depression to sexual addiction and alcoholism. Smith credits the spike in treatment to his staff's ability to build confianza among Latinos.

[View the entire article at the Independent Weekly.]