Impacts of Nature in Proactive and Responsive Behavioral Health Treatment of Urban Latino Youth

Evaluating nature-based, behavioral health treatments on the mental health outcomes of urban, economically disadvantaged Latino youth in Milwaukee

Full Project Name:Impacts of Nature in Proactive and Responsive Behavioral Health Treatment of Urban Latino YouthPrimary Community Organization:Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers (SSCHC)Primary Academic Partner:Kirsten Beyer, PhD, MPH, MS, Institute for Health and EquityAward Amount:$400,000
Award Date
October2020
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:


Adolescent mental health is of particular concern in Wisconsin as youth suicide rates and mental health hospitalizations consistently surpass national rates, and have shown notable increases year after year. Although behavioral health interventions, access, and encounters for youth have increased across the state, treatment needs surpass available services. Greater attention to prevention and an exploration of alternatives to clinical treatment interventions is critical to impact increasing rates of mental illness, suicide, and hospitalizations. Alternative treatment options are limited, especially for at-risk urban, minority youth, due to distance and cost barriers, and are almost entirely inaccessible for non-English speaking families.

The proposed study will evaluate how enhancing existing after-school/summer camp programs and outpatient treatment with nature-based, behavioral health treatment techniques improves mental health outcomes among urban and economically disadvantaged Latino youth.

Project Updates:


  • Served 14 children through the Child and Adolescent Day Treatment Program
  • Served 20 students through the preventative program at Zablocki and Lincoln Elementary Schools, including numerous activities, such as going on hikes and visiting nature centers, resulting in positive feedback from students
  • Anecdotal evidence and observation from providers at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers demonstrate that the program is positively impacting the mental health of students
  • Presenting findings and information about the project at the Green School Conference and planning to highlight the work of this project at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center's Health Equity Summit in Fall 2022

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