Hispanic Heritage Highlight: Sandra Valdez

September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month.

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 Sandra Valdez, she has lived in Lancaster for the last 38 years. She is the Chief Operating Officer at the Spanish American Civic Association, a nonprofit social service organization. Sandra has been employed at SACA for 23 years in different capacities.

What is your journey with mental health/mental wellness?

My journey is to support our community by linking them to local service providers that can assist with having both good mental and physical health and the ability to make healthy choices.  “Mental health” – is a tabu for many individuals particularly because they feel victimized when speaking up.  Those who are reluctant to speak up is because they believe obtaining mental health treatment means they are “crazy”.  Normalizing mental health across the board enables individuals to seek services to think, feel and act healthy.

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

 I believe its important because culture plays a huge part in the lack of seeking mental health services. Anything that happens at home stays at home and its not discussed outside the residents. Therefore, Latinos shy from seeking the necessary help for their physical, mental and well-being. Truly understanding what mental health is, will benefit the Hispanic/Latino community to grow within themselves and our society.  

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

Its ok to feel the way you do mentally, emotionally, and physically. Others are here to listen and guide you through difficult times, as needed. Though you must open yourself to the opportunity to be heard and supported. Speak up!