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Luis Suárez: Increasing Access to Mental Healthcare for the Latinx Community

Luis Suárez: Increasing Access to Mental Healthcare for the Latinx Community

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on changemakers who are making the world a more equitable place! I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Luis Suárez, the founder and CEO of Sanarai. Are you ready to be inspired? 

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Luis! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?

Luis: Happy to cruise with you, Spiffy! Sanarai addresses the gap in the mental health offering for the Latinx community. Did you know that only 5% of psychologists in the US speak Spanish compared to 13% of the population that speak Spanish at home and 19% that identify as Hispanic or Latinx?

Spiffy: No, I didn’t know that! That’s a big difference.

Luis: Indeed! Treatment rates for Hispanics with mental illness are 10% below the average.

Spiffy: Tell us more about what motivates you to tackle this challenge.

Luis: I am originally from Mexico City and came to the US for my MBA. I met my wife, Jen, in business school, and now we live in Chicago. We got married on March 14, 2020, right when everyone started to realize the implications of the pandemic. The week of the wedding was very stressful, and I decided to look for mental health support upon coming back to Chicago. I struggled to find someone that could speak Spanish and fit my schedule. Shortly after, I decided to launch Sanarai in the middle of the pandemic to increase the Latinx community's access to high-quality mental health resources.

Spiffy: How would you describe the impact of your work?

Luis: We currently have our product in the market and have had more than 12,000 sessions and 2,000 clients use our service. We have more than 500 active users who have scheduled a session in the last month. Our product could be used by millions of people as only in the US more than 40 million people speak Spanish at home. Our vision is to become the largest provider of Spanish-language, culturally relevant care.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by you or your organization. What impact does that make? 

Luis: We grew our revenue seven-fold in 2022 vs. 2021 at a pace of >20% MoM. This accelerated growth allows us to help more and more people.

Spiffy: Congratulations on that success! Thanks for speaking with me today, Luis—it’s been an honor!

Luis Suárez is originally from Mexico City and came to the US to pursue his MBA at Duke University. He is an engineer by training and worked as a management consultant at Kearney focusing on Digital Transformation and M&A for three years before launching Sanarai. (Nominated by Sumia Shaikh of Visible Hands. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 28, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.