Research Mentor(s): Ana Avila Sanchez, Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Communication and Media, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 5 (3pm-3:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 6
The upsurge of the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought forth many studies concerning how marginalized communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus: partly due to discriminatory practices embedded within the United States healthcare system, increased proportions of those working essential jobs, and increased probabilities of suffering from preexisting conditions, among other factors. However, there is very little qualitative research regarding the first-hand experiences of these individuals, particularly those within the Hispanic community, nor is there research accessible to Spanish-speaking individuals. Thus, our study entitled “COVID-19 Hidden Stories” searches to collect and empower the experiences of Hispanic individuals who have been affected by the pandemic through virtual interviews in a way that has not yet been amplified by the media or made accessible for the community’s use. Utilizing a trauma-informed journalistic approach, interviews were conducted through phone calls with Hispanic individuals who had contracted COVID-19 within West Michigan, South East Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois communities. The interviews were transcribed and compiled into an audio podcast format, all in Spanish, with English subtitles including necessary context and analysis for individual accounts. Ultimately, analysis of the interviews indicated that difficulties in obtaining access to testing and care, financial burdens, and mistrust of the healthcare system in general were the primary obstacles faced by the Hispanic community during their battles with COVID-19. As a result of these obstacles, our interviewees demonstrated several accounts of mental distress, allowing us to focus on the ways their mental health has been impacted by the pandemic. Ultimately, this journalistic research aims to create solidarity during a time of isolation and highlight noteworthy changes in mental health as experienced by the Hispanic community. The research also highlights the intersectionality that exists between modern-day immigration policies and discriminatory health-care practices against Hispanic persons.