Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 6-20-2017


This narrative study documents the experiences of seven Latina community educators through focus groups, interviews, and artifact data. Given the stigma of mental health (Bayer, 2005), a lack of culturally centered emotional curriculums (Boler, 1997; Boler & Zembylas, 2003) which are removed from structural oppression (Collins, 2002,1989; Crenshaw, 1991, 1993; hooks, 2014), educators, parents, and communities are in need of mental health promotion tools. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2015), approximately 70 million Americans annually are diagnosed with mental health issues that disable daily functioning. More relevant to the study population was the loss of three middle school-aged youth due to suicide where educators taught family literacy classes. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 (National Institute of Mental Health report, 2015).

Community-centered approaches are highlighted in the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2015, H.R.1211, as a tool to promote culturally relevant health interventions. In response to H.R.1211 and a community-driven focus on “talking about emotions,” the researcher and participants developed narratives based on topics within emotional literacy models (Goleman, 2006; Steiner, 1997) and a critical education framework (Freire & Macedo, 2005; Giroux & McLaren, 1989; Lankshear, 1997, 1993; McLaren, 2000, 2001; Shor, 1992, 1993) that focuses on feminist inquiry (Luke & Gore, 1992; hooks, 2014; Richer & Weir, 1995) and emotionality (Boler, 1997, 1999; Brown, 2006; Brown, 2007; Jaggar, 1989; Jasper, 2011; McLaren, 2010). Narratives across the seven women revealed a need to focus family emotional learning by identifying interpartner violence. Additionally, findings suggest that women who participate in grassroots community organizations have improved perceived mental health as a result of identifying interpartner violence and finding resistance to oppression through critical education and emotional dialogue. The dissertation focuses on four case studies and four storybook narratives as artifacts that demonstrate stances of resistance and empowerment among community educators in New Mexico. Findings are contextualized within a local New Mexico setting, and recommendations for developing emotional literacy for mental health workers and teachers are offered.


Critical family emotional literacy, family education, mental health, social and emotional development, emotionality


UNM Center for Health Policy

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ruth Trinidad Galván

Second Committee Member

Glenabah Martinez

Third Committee Member

Holbrook Mahn

Fourth Committee Member

Magdalena Avila