Chicago Beyond, a philanthropic organization that works to ensure all young people and community members are free to live full lives, today announced a $1.6 million multiyear investment in Centro Sanar, a non-profit treatment center that provides bilingual and bicultural mental health services for Latinx communities on the Southwest Side of Chicago. This funding commitment supports a replicable model that addresses critical, nationwide mental health service gaps for Latinx communities as an alternative to the current mental health industry.
Centro Sanar was co-founded by Edwin Martinez, Lindsey Bailey, Tatiana Rohner, and Kira Harris Kogan in 2022 to address the impact of trauma and violence on families impacted by systemic oppression and to transform that system. Centro Sanar provides a wide range of services, including therapy, counseling, case management, support groups, and educational resources. Centro Sanar helps people overcome barriers to seeking mental health care by engaging with the community to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and utilizing a co-location model that increases accessibility to services.
“Centro Sanar has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the mental health needs of Southwest Chicago’s Latinx community, and we are honored to elevate their important work,” said Founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond, Liz Dozier. “A traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to health does not work, particularly for members with their own unique experiences, and it’s time for a change. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with Centro Sanar and to supporting their work to bring transformative solutions that will spill over and be replicated nationally.”
Mental health needs in the United States, particularly within Latinx communities, have been exacerbated since the beginning of the pandemic. Rather than solely focusing on the worsening mental health of individuals, it is important to address the underlying issue of the lack of culturally concordant, bilingual, and accessible mental healthcare options. This has created significant barriers for Latinx individuals in seeking appropriate support and treatment.
Access to culturally relevant mental health services on the Southwest Side of Chicago is severely limited. A 2018 assessment revealed barriers such as cost, lack of insurance coverage, and distance to services as preventing residents from accessing the support they need. The assessment also highlighted the scarcity of culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Spanish-speaking Latinx immigrant communities in the area.
Centro Sanar and Chicago Beyond view violence and trauma in Chicago as a systemic problem that disproportionately impacts underserved, under-resourced, and underrepresented communities of color. In light of this pressing need, Centro Sanar is committed to closing the disparity gap and ensuring equitable access to culturally sensitive, community-centered care.
“We are deeply grateful for the generous investment, trust, and two-way-street partnership with Chicago Beyond,” said Co-Founder and Executive Director of Centro Sanar, Edwin Martinez. “Our organization has seen first-hand the critical gap in access to a variety of mental healthcare services, as well as the success stories when individuals and families receive the care they need. This support will help us reach new heights, increase capacity, and significantly strengthen our ability to make mental health services more accessible to Chicago’s Latinx community.”
Through their community-centered approach, Centro Sanar and Chicago Beyond aim to reduce stigma, break down cultural barriers, and strengthen psychology, healing, and therapy services that will positively impact the overall well-being of the Latinx community and the city of Chicago as a whole.