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IBS Speaker Series: Laura Vargas
April 3 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Title: Mental health and trauma exposure among recent Latinx immigrant adults: study goals and research progress
Exposure to violence and trauma in Latin America significantly contributes to migration to the U.S., bringing attention to the mental health consequences of forced migration at the U.S./Mexico border. Traumatic events occur at every stage of migration and negatively impact mental health. Although studies such as Keller et. al. look at pre-migration experiences of immigrant adults arriving at the U.S. southern border, insufficient evidence exists of the intersection of trauma exposure; individual characteristics; and mental health outcomes of depression, anxiety, and PTSD among recent Latinx immigrant adults. This presentation centers on the study objectives of a funded K01 study focused on developing mental health phenotypes of Latinx immigrant adults that are informed by the intersection of trauma, individual characteristics, and symptom severity. The goals of this presentation are to 1) present the study objectives and design, and 2) present the progress of the ongoing research by sharing some of the qualitative stories shared by participants as well as descriptive statistics of the sample thus far.
Laura Vargas, PhD, LMSW, MPA, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Department of Psychiatry. Previously, she was a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow with the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (NIMH, T32MH015442) and a Vice-Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Injury Science Center and School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in Social Policy and Policy Analysis from Columbia University School of Social Work in 2018, and her MSW from the same institution in 2017. She is funded by the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD, K01MD015768) and is researching exposure to trauma and mental health of recent Latinx immigrants in the United States. She is a mental health practitioner with the Refugee Mental Health Clinic and the Stress, Trauma, Adversity Research, and Treatment (START) Center, both in the Department of Psychiatry at CU SOM. Dr. Vargas is a bi-cultural Mexican/American, a multi-lingual researcher focused broadly on the impacts of violence and migration on mental health and health service utilization among Latinx populations. She has regional expertise on violence, health, and social policy issues in Latin America through past professional experience in Mexico’s Ministry of Social Development, as well as through her prior research in Mexico and Brazil. She is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the advisory committee of the University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center.
Sponsored by: CU Population Center