Society for Medical Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper discusses Tertulias, a peer support group for Mexican immigrant women run by behavioral health counselors in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We collaborated with them to conduct a community-engaged, mixed methods study to develop a multidimensional understanding of synergistic connections in the lives of the group members—both negative and positive. We were specifically interested in connections between social isolation, depression, and immigration. We investigated dimensions of women’s experience with respect to these domains, and also evaluated the Tertulias model and what participants think about it. We tested an innovative “structured dialogue” (SD) approach for incorporating exploration of these issues into the group dynamic. We documented key positive impacts of participation in the group on women’s everyday experiences and emotional wellbeing. We interpret these findings using a theoretical architecture that fuses three conceptual frameworks: Cultural Situatedness, Women’s Funds of Knowledge, and Gendered Emplacement Theory. Our results demonstrate Tertulias as a model for reducing health disparities associated with immigration and reveal the power of women’s community-based solutions.