Oscar Paul Medina

Oscar Paul Medina
Location: Los Angeles, California Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Arts in Health and Healing, Behavioral and Mental Health, Early Childhood, Education, Health Care Access, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children (6-11 years), Hispanic/Latino/Latinx
CEO & Founder
Conscious Cultura

Imagine Mia, a senior at Calexico High School. Her parents are immigrants from Mexico; her father is imprisoned, and her mother suffers from depression. Mia is raising her two younger siblings, while holding a part-time job and applying to college. During COVID- 19, she lost an uncle to the virus, and her mother started drinking heavily. This is a child suffering from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—and there are nearly 10 million Latinx youth like Mia in the United States today.

On a normal day, Mia wakes up tired and attends school stressed out. Now, she has access to the Conscious Cultura app on her phone that generates content designed to ease her nerves and clear her mind. For example, a fight breaks out at lunch, which triggers her anxiety. Her teacher invites the students to open the app on their laptops, and an AI algorithm asks Rosa how she’s feeling (English or Spanish). She chooses from a list of audio/video exercises designed to address her emotional state, and practices a belly breathing practice. Feeling calmer, Mia continues her school day with more ease.

Oscar is developing Conscious Cultura, a culturally centered, trauma-informed digital mental health platform to support Latinx students like Mia, their families, and educators in service to healing systemic trauma, and creating a more healthy, equitable, and thriving society.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Creating a Multisector Leader Collaborative to Integrate Indigenous Practices Into New Models for Latinx Wellbeing
My vision of this strategic initiative is to transform the Latinx mental health landscape into one that is culturally rooted, evidence-based, equity-focused, and centered in principles of health as buen-vivir. Mental health, as it is practiced today in U.S.-based Latinx communities, is largely sourced in Western historical dimensions—colonization, market capitalism, scientific materialism—which, at best, treat symptoms for those with financial access and, at worst, create harm, do not address systemic causes, or alienate whole communities. To address this issue, my initiative aims to seed new models of mental health that integrate evidence-based science, along with time-tested healing principles (community-ecology-holism) of Latinx cultures. An organization will be created to host a multisector collective of leaders to raise awareness and impact systems (education, health, justice, philanthropy, technology, policy), with the aim of shifting toward more integrative and culturally rooted mental health approaches for Latinx communities, with an at-risk focus. This organization will develop programs, media, and convenings with leaders to further research and will create pathways of support for Latinx communities, paving the way for a healthier, thriving future.

Oscar’s lineage is from Mexico, born in East Los Angeles and raised in the Mojave Desert. Conscious Cultura comes out of Oscar’s experience as a survivor of childhood and intergenerational trauma. Through his healing journey, Oscar trained with leading clinical psychologists and meditation teachers working on solutions toward healing trauma in underserved communities. This experience led him to support BIPOC communities by leading and designing mindfulness-based mental health programs in the education, justice, and health sectors. During this process, he realized that to effect systemic change a preventative, scalable, and systems approach to health and well-being is crucial. Through Conscious Cultura, he is developing a culturally centered, evidence-based digital platform to heal systemic trauma and advance well-being for Latinx youth, their families, and educators. By focusing efforts on healing ACEs—which lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, poorer performance in school and work, and costs the U.S. a trillion dollars annually—research shows we can positively impact generations to come. For the last 15 years, Oscar has dedicated himself to personal and systems transformation through meditation, trauma-informed psychology, and leadership development through an equity lens. His vision as a social entrepreneur and healer is to empower Latinx and global majority communities toward building a more whole, just, and thriving world.

Click here to watch Oscar’s Legacy Project video.