Student Researcher Q&A: Reno Garcia on Indigenous Farmworkers’ Access to Mental Health Resources

Reno will be presenting the research project Exploring Access to Mental Health Resources Among Indigenous Oaxacan Farmworkers at the Undergraduate Research & Creativity Showcase on May 25, as part of UCLA Undergraduate Research Week (May 24-28).

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your research interests?

My name is Reno Garcia and I am a third year community college transfer from Madera, CA. In addition, my research interests include farm labor, mental health, as well as social justice and stem from my lived experience growing up in a predominantly immigrant farm worker community located in the Central Valley. Finally, in my current project, I aim to explore possibilities for adequate mental health care for indigenous Oaxacan Central Valley farm workers.

What is your research project topic?

Exploring possibilities for adequate mental health care for indigenous Oaxacan Central Valley farm workers.

What is one notable finding from your research?

The mental health care farm workers receive is often ethnocentric in nature and fails to consider the structural and systemic factors contributing to the farm workers’ conditions and experiences. In many ways, the farm workers’ cultural understandings are seen as a barrier which keeps them from accessing adequate health care. Therefore, the potential findings will be important because indigenous farm workers deserve to access behavioral (mental) health care services that recognize the importance of their medical cultures and cultural understandings of illness and wellbeing.

How was your experience conducting research remotely?

It has been both challenging and rewarding! For example, I would love to start the data collection process in person, however, not having access to the field has pushed me to become more adaptable by seeking alternative methods to ensure the success of my project.

What advice would you give others who are considering pursuing their own research project?

Go for it and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! You will never know unless you try!

What skills have you learned from research experience?

Communication, adaptability, technological, time management.

What’s the most fulfilling part of working on your project?

Having the privilege to give back to my community in Madera, CA as well as having the opportunity to work with other amazing scholars.