Equity Exchange September/October 2022: National Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15- October 15) pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have influenced and enriched our nation and society.
We were privileged to sit down with Giselle Sanchez, a UC San Diego PhD candidate who works with adolescents in Southern California and Northern Mexico. She shares how her personal history led to her passion for enhancing our understanding of adolescent mental health.
We’re proud to support UCSD’s Global Health Program. Through our unique partnership we’re granted access to thought leaders doing cutting-edge research that’s changing the world.
For those of you who’d rather read through the content (or you’re in a quiet place not conducive to video-watching) we’ve got you covered:
There are many different ways in which individuals can identify. We have so many terms and there’s such a wide range of terms, but it’s also very nuanced. I think that many people don’t lock themselves into one specific label.
I think that in my every day, I will sometimes say that I’m Mexican or sometimes I will say that I’m Latina, or sometimes I’ll say I’m Hispanic. It really just depends on context. And honestly, I have found that it’s also very common, if not more common, to identify with your own family’s country of origin. I, for example, just say I’m Mexican, even though I was born here in the United States.
My dissertation is on adolescent subjectivity. What that means is that I pay special attention to emotional experience, how adolescents view, understand, feel about the world around them. There’s really a lot of dearth in research on how adolescents understand the world from their own perspectives.
My research focuses on adolescent mental health, specifically in Southern California and also Northern Mexico. It’s a team based collaborative project. This project for me was something that I chose because it not only really matters to me, but I think also really matters to the community that I come from and that I wish to help.
I think I’ve always had this connection, of course, to the community that I identify with and that I see as my own community. I think that what I noticed growing up was that mental health specifically was not something that was overtly discussed either in my family or even just in general, honestly.
I was dealing with a lot of problems that I didn’t even realize I needed help for, that I didn’t even know how to articulate. I felt anxiety, I felt depression, I felt all these things, but I didn’t know what I was feeling. There was just not a conversation about it, at all.
When I went to undergrad at UCLA, I took anthropological classes that were really more psychological and medical anthropology focused that really dealt with a lot of these questions that I had that I didn’t even realize that I had, like what was it that I was feeling and how was I talking about it.
Those classes really just blew my mind about just social dynamics, culture and the impact of structural factors and all these things. I was like, I just have to do this, this is what I’m supposed to do.