Puerto Rican Cultural Arts and Expressive Arts Therapies: Mental Health and Collective Resilience Post-Hurricane Maria

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Soler-Martinez, Stephanie
natural disasters; mental health; Puerto Rico; ethno-cultural; coping mechanisms; expressive arts therapies; psychosocial interventions; resilience; Social and Behavioral Sciences
thesis / dissertation description
The research aimed to study how integrating Puerto Rican popular cultural arts with the expressive arts therapies could assist the recovery process post Hurricane Maria. During post-disaster recovery efforts, access to formal psychological services are not always viable to survivors and the services available are usually not enough to cover the demand. The literature review examined the relationship between: mental health in the aftermath of natural disasters; cultural relevancy within the field of psychology in Puerto Rico; resilience in post-disaster communities; and psychosocial community interventions. Findings encouraged for programing for Puerto Rico’s psychosocial recovery from Hurricane Maria, or any future natural disaster, to reach vulnerable populations. For example: low socioeconomic communities, children, adolescents, older adults and those with less access to formal mental health services. In addition, psychosocial interventions should be ethno-culturally focused and place-based, and work within a critical-cultural and de-colonial framework towards resilience. Lastly, findings encourage for local community organizations to be trained in trauma-informed approaches in order to achieve greater mental health outreach. That way, they can assist in the recovery process by facilitating emotionally supportive environments and the use creative resources for the collective processing of traumatic events.