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3 Min Read

Lived Experience Partner Spotlight: José Caballero

22 May 2024

For our latest Spotlight interview with ieso’s Lived Experience Partners, we spoke to José Caballero.

José is a student at Columbia University, studying cognitive science and Latino studies. His interests are centered on mental health intersectionality, multiculturalism, equity, storytelling, lived experience, and research. José works closely with BIPOC communities to understand the intersection of behavioral health inequality, cultural norms, and socioeconomic and language barriers in perpetuating myths and cultural dogmas in historically marginalized communities. In his current work, he translates mental health research for Spanish speakers and amplifies the lived experience of Hispanics through storytelling.

At ieso, José brings his experience of working with some of the leading mental health non-profit, policy and advisory organizations in the US to help shape our digital products and research in ways that deliver positive impact for our patients. He recently co-led a panel with The Jed Foundation (JED) at Meta.

Hi José! Could you tell us a bit about your background, and how you came to be a Lived Experience Advisor?

Whether it was moving from Nicaragua to Miami or navigating the American educational system as a first-generation student, I have faced socioeconomic and language barriers that form a part of my identity. My lived experiences are the backbone of my mental health leadership and efforts. I have advised and collaborated with some of the leading mental health nonprofits in the U.S., including Mental Health America, The Jed Foundation (JED), NAMI, and Inseparable. I have the greatest honor to serve on the Advisory Board of Inseparable, America's only organization dedicated to championing crucial federal and state policies that have saved and improved care for hundreds of Americans.

I am the founder and executive director of Get In Touch, a nonprofit centered on making mental health education accessible to Latine communities by translating mental health resources and knowledge to Spanish. My interests within the behavioral health field lie at the intersection of equity, storytelling, scientific research, and lived experience. I believe there shouldn’t be barriers to care, and people deserve to live a life filled with dignity and liberty.

What attracted you to work with ieso?

Institutions play a crucial role in advancing knowledge and pioneering effective products---ieso is one of them. I was drawn to ieso because of their ongoing efforts to innovate and to truly understand the value lived experience partners bring to the products, the team, and the DNA of the company. ieso is one of the few institutions that blends the value of scientific literature with lived experience, and, in turn, humanizes their products and solutions. I am grateful to form part of a visionary and forward-thinking company.

What does good lived experience practice look like to you, and why do you think it’s important that digital health innovators like ieso embed it into the way they work?

I had a similar discussion with a prominent Columbia University professor the other day. He was talking about statistics and the literature on common factors that perpetuate cycles of depression in youth. While he was right to point out existing literature on depression, I did not need to study or read as many studies as he did to understand these factors because I experienced them myself. I didn’t have to study how poverty or systematic oppression exacerbates one’s mental health because it is a part of my identity. This is what has led me to rethink the way we make decisions on particular issues. I wholeheartedly believe that scientific literature and lived experience can co-exist and co-create together to influence meaningful and competent products.  

As one of our US Lived Experience Partners, you’re relatively new to the ieso team – what projects will you be working on with us in the coming months?

ieso has a lot of upcoming projects that will definitely leave a mark in the digital space and beyond. My current work is focused on ensuring equitable representation and understanding behind the design and thinking of ieso’s products, whether it is the accessibility and language of online materials or advising on equitable and inclusive practices for existing, and upcoming, products. At ieso, I am furthering my experience in behavioral health equity, storytelling, and inclusion.

In collaboration with our Lived Experience Partners, ieso co-developed a set of Responsible Innovation principles that we use to inform the way we work – read more about them here.

For our latest Spotlight interview introducing ieso’s Lived Experience Partners, we spoke to José Caballero.