“Ask the Doc” Virtual Town Hall Tonight to Focus on Mental Health and Coping with COVID-19 for Spanish Speakers

LIVE Q&A to Stream Thursday on Facebook and YouTube

Wake County Public Health’s community outreach continues tonight, Thursday, May 20, at 7 p.m. with the fourth in a series of live virtual town hall meetings. Conducted in Spanish, “Salud mental y COVID” will allow the public to ask questions of local mental health experts to guide them through coping with stress and other strong emotions experienced during the pandemic.

Our experts will share ways to cope with COVID-19 and provide resources to help improve the wellbeing of residents who are struggling with stress, grief, loss, mental health challenges, domestic abuse and substance use disorders.

Wake County Public Health will stream the informal discussion simultaneously via its virtual Town Hall Facebook and Town Hall YouTube events. Participants can ask questions in the chat during the meeting or submit them online prior to tomorrow’s discussion.

The panel of experts includes:

  • Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, an Associate Professor and Director of Health Equity at Duke University;
  • Dr. Robert Blanco, a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist at UNC Health;
  • Dr. Andrea Diaz Stransky, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Duke Health;
  • Dr. Mae Lynn Reyes- Rodríguez, clinical psychologists at UNC Health;
  • Estefania Castro Vazquez, a domestic abuse counselor at InterAct; and
  • Rev. Sara Robb-Scott, a grief counselor and bereavement program coordinator at WakeMed Health & Hospitals.

Additional health experts will help answer questions asked via the chat feature, including Dr. Gabriela Nagy, clinical assistant professor at Duke University.

“We are committed to helping our residents navigate through these challenging times,” said Wake County Commissioner Maria Cervania.. “Our virtual town halls provide opportunities for our diverse communities to connect to local experts who share their cultural experiences, create an open space to engage in conversations, and have some of their top of mind questions about COVID-19 answered.”

The pandemic has amplified inequities in health care for communities of color, as well as the social and economic factors that contribute to poor health outcomes. Coping with the trauma, stress and anxiety that comes with death, illness, economic uncertainty, lack of childcare and social isolation has communities of color reporting higher instances of symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, increased substance abuse and suicide.

According to research by the National Center for Health Statistics conducted during the pandemic, roughly 40 percent of Latinos nationwide reported experiencing frequent symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder from April 2020 to Nov 2020. The rate peaked in mid-July and at the beginning of November when nearly 50 percent of Latinos reported experiencing such symptoms.

Before the pandemic, it was already difficult for members of this community to obtain mental health services since many do not have insurance. Some clinics provided free or low-cost services but often had waitlists. Hispanics/Latinos have also faced challenges in obtaining culturally competent mental health care. The need is only growing during the pandemic.

Click here to watch any episode of the “Ask the Doc” series, which has been offered in both English and Spanish. Again, links to both of tonight’s livestreams can be found at WakeGov.com/AsktheDoc. For more information on the COVID-19 and vaccine, visit WakeGov.com/COVID19.

Press Release