Perinatal Mental Health Alliance Provider March Blog
“I’ve always believed everyone deserves to have a beautiful and carefree childhood. Many do not and I cannot change that; however, what I can do is try to guide and support new parents to be the best version of themselves for their children.”
Meet Dr. Alinne Barrera an English and Spanish-speaking Licensed Clinical Psychologist, who has been dynamically influenced by both of her parents who are immigrants from different countries. At an early age Alinne moved to a foreign country and was raised by family members she had never met. Despite facing moments of adversity Alinne recalls a beautiful childhood where her mother was the central figure, and she was always surrounded by love. These life experiences are where she credits the inspiration for her professional work.
Alinne completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley and doctoral degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She returned to the University of California for her predoctoral internship and NIMH-funded research which was completed in conjunction with the San Francisco General Hospital. Alinne is currently a Professor in the Clinical Psychology PhD Program at Palo Alto University and serves as Associate Director at the Institute for International Internet Interventions for Health. Her scholarly work focuses on depression prevention, intervention adaptations, and the use of technology to disseminate perinatal mental health resources.
Because of her upbringing, Alinne has always been interested in different cultures and traditions causing her to center her professional work around adapting psychological interventions to meet the needs of culturally diverse communities. Her research focuses primarily on women of color, Spanish speakers, and those with limited resources. Since 2005, she has been using technology such as the internet and SMS as ways to test evidence-based interventions, disseminate educational materials about perinatal mental health, and reach those wanting, needing, and seeking emotional support. Alinne is also committed to helping providers learn about and integrate simple methods to educate their patients about the mental health changes that can occur during the perinatal period.
Alinne shares, “I am most interested in bringing the human, community, and cultural unity aspects of our lived experiences to birthing individuals through the digital devices they currently have access to or are most comfortable using. The methodologies I implement are very simple and do not use the most sophisticated technologies. Given the ubiquity of technology, I view digital mental health as a method to break through the stigma that continues to serve as a barrier for many birthing individuals who continue to be confused, surprised, and alone when they experience unexpected mental health issues, and consequently do not know how to get help.”
Perinatal mood disorders are treatable; therefore, Alinne’s goal is to use her background as a Clinical Psychologist, daughter, and mother to create digital tools requiring little professional support and focused on prevention. In addition to her scholarly work, Alinne is an expert trainer and consultant to agencies implementing the Mothers and Babies Course, and she serves on the Advisory Boards of 2020Mom, EmmaWell, and Canopie.
Outside of her professional life, Alinne takes care of herself by wandering and traveling, and spending time with family and close friends. Also, Alinne values her alone time. Since the pandemic, she has become very protective over exercise time and shares, “whether it is going to the gym, running in the park, or logging into a Zoom boot camp, talk to me in an hour!” Lastly, she loves being surprised. “There are very few things in life that are unknown. I love to not know and be surprised!”
Dr. Alinne Barrera we thank you for the work you are doing in the perinatal space and strides you have taken with your research. If you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Barrera, her research, or want to connect with her further please visit her at the links below:
Lab Website: https://barreralab.wixsite.com/home
Monthly newsletter sign-up: https://mailchi.mp/fcc3bd556503/newsletter-sign-up
These two study sites are currently closed but it gives an overview of the type of work I do: www.babytextstudy.com and www.emb.health
“My biggest win is when the mothers I helped and supported come back years later to volunteer for PSI,” shares Hajara Kutty who has been volunteering as an international support coordinator since 2008.
“This has happened a few times and every time, it feels so amazingly rewarding to know I was able to help them through their time of need to the extent they want to do the same for others!”
Hajara began volunteering after experiencing challenges and being diagnosed with a perinatal mood disorder. Even though she loves working with children as she is a primary school teacher, her passion is spreading awareness and supporting others experiencing symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder.
Between life, teaching, and volunteering she takes care of herself by watching movies with my husband, reading, exercising and going on long beach walks with my daughter (when the weather is nice).
As a support coordinator, Hajara is able to see how grateful help seekers are to connect with someone who understands their struggles while offering support and resources.
Hajara, thank you for the tireless work you do for our help seekers. If you would like to connect with Hajara you can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re interested in supporting parents, consider volunteering with PSI today.