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ALMA: Amigas Latinas Motivando el Alma
LatinaFriends Motivating the Soul
A grant-funded program of the North Carolina Glaxo Smithkline Foundation

As immigrating Latinos adapt to the mainstream culture of the United States, they face enormous mental and physical stressors with limited resources to address them. Some of these stressors include shifting cultural practices, geographic and linguistic isolation, lack of awareness of resources, and loss of family and social support. As the Latino population in our state grows, culturally sensitive prevention strategies and interventions are needed immediately for optimal health, especially as it relates to addressing mental health.

Amplifying impact upon the public's health

ALMA is a collaborative research project between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Sheps Center for Health Services Research and Duke Division of Community Health. The two universities have pooled resources, expertise, and creative energies of efforts to decrease health disparities among Latina immigrants. Focused on promoting emotional health and reducing mental health stressors for Latinas in Durham and Chatham Counties, ALMA expects to reduce sub-clinical anxiety and depressive symptoms for Latinas by:

  • Increasing knowledge and awareness of depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress, and coping strategies among Latinas in the target counties; and
  • Normalizing stress, self-care, and support in a group setting through skills development and modeling.

Train the trainer

ALMA is a peer education intervention using trained and supervised Latinas as lay health advisors, or promotoras, to offer coping skills, knowledge and support to other Latinas in their homes and neighborhoods. Using this peer-to-peer support method offers a culturally competent and cost-effective way to reduce mental health stress among a vulnerable population of new Latina immigrants.

The promotoras are taught mental health and coping skills through training sessions, using a linguistically and culturally appropriate curriculum for the Latina population that has immigrated to central North Carolina. The curriculum focuses on skill-building to deal with anxiety and sadness, addressing common experiences of immigration, family re-organization and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. The curriculum will include building one's own “comfort basket” and other forms of creative expression.

Using Promotoras to promote behavior change

Trained promotoras share their newly acquired skills with Latina peers they identify to reinforce positive coping strategies and facilitate healthy behavior change. Mental health professionals dedicated to ALMA provide direct mental health services for those Latinas who need support beyond the capacity of promotoras. The relationships, skills, and social networks developed through ALMA's peer educators are expected to demonstrate a sustainable, community-based, culturally competent model for communities to continue promoting mental health among Latinas.


  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
    School of Nursing;
    Department of Family Medicine;
    School of Public Health;
    Center for Global Initiatives
  • Duke Department of Psychiatry
  • Duke Department of Hematology
  • Auger Communications, Inc.
  • Todd Drake, Artist
  • Wake County Department of Human Services
  • Orange County Health Department
  • Duke University Hospital Latino Health Project
  • El Centro Hispano
  • Chatham Social Health Council
  • El Pueblo
  • Chatham County Public Health Department
  • El Vinculo Hispano
  • Chatham Health Initiative
  • El Futuro
  • Greensboro Mental Health Association
  • Coalition for Family Peace
  • Child Care Networks, Inc.
  • Hablando Claro

For more information:

ALMA Project
Division of Community Health
Department of Community and Family Medicine
Duke University Medical Center
DUMC Box 104425
Durham, NC 27710
Phone: 919-668-3787
Fax: 919-613-6899