Hispanic Heritage Highlight: Kareena Rios

Although Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th to October 15th, we wanted to still highlight people in the community throughout the month of October.

We wanted to take the time to highlight members of our community who are doing amazing work. In this Q&A series we will be connecting with different people in the Lancaster County Community learning about the work that they do.

Today we’re highlighting Kareena Rios. She was born and raised in Lancaster city, attended all SDoL schools and recently moved to Lancaster Township where she lives with her husband and two kids. Kareena has been on the school district of Lancaster School Board since 2019 and is currently serving as Vice President.

Kareena is also recognized in the Lancaster Community for community organizing and equity work with various nonprofit organizations and boards, such as Lancaster Equity Council, Lancaster Stands Up, and CASA. In all of my work she commits to uplifting the Black, Indigenous, Immigrant and Refugee communities that contribute to Lancaster in so many ways.

What is your journey with mental health/mental wellness?

 I think growing up in a Latino household I definitely got the sense that talking about your mental health was a little taboo. There were past family traumas that would occassionally come up, and often it felt like the whole family was starring at a wound that was too big to heal. In middle school a close family friend’s daughter attempted self harming, this and issues at home prompted my mother to put me into therapy sessions at school. I unlearned a lot of stereotypes about mental health in therapy. Since then I have continued to seek out help when I need it. After giving birth to my second child I was experiencing some really intense mood changes and as it turned out I was struggling with postpartum depression. As a new mom I learned that in order to be a good caregiver I needed to care for myself and that included my mental health.

Why do you think mental health awareness is important in the Hispanic/Latino community?

We owe it to ourselves to unlearn old ways of thinking, our communities deserve to thrive. It’s important in every community but I would say within the Latinx context it is necessary to address generational traumas caused by colonization, forced migration and poverty.

What is one piece of advice you would give to children/youth in Lancaster looking to improve their mental wellness?

I would say to not be afraid to open up in groups of your peers. Group therapy has been one of the most healing spaces for me, personally, listening to others experiences and feeling heard by others can be incredibly validating!