Hello! Hola! Bienvenidos! The Latinx community form the largest minority group in the United States. This trend is expected to continue with the number of immigrants seeking asylum in our country. We use the term “Latinx” as a gender-neutral term for anyone of Latin-American decent. Did you know that only one third of individuals with mental illness in the Latinx community receive treatment each year which is below the U.S. average by 10%?
What Prevents this population from Seeking Treatment?
Barriers to seeking counseling include cultural beliefs surrounding mental health. The cultural stigma around mental health issues as well as the lack of financial resources, transportation or health insurance, language barriers, and accessibility issues. During challenging times Latinx individuals turn to religion or homemade remedies to cope. Faith and spirituality play a big role in the coping skills which are important but can lack the effective interventions and treatments for mental health conditions. There is a great fear of being labeled as “crazy” which causes Latinos to identify symptoms of depression and anxiety in terms of physical health and issues leading to misdiagnosis.
How Can We Overcome these Mental Health Disparities?
We can work on advocating and breaking the mental health stigma. Acknowledging these specific challenges of the Latinx community. Telling our stories and educating Latinos about mental health and offering resources as needed. As a clinician we can work on increasing our cultural competence. Being aware of the language that may be stigmatizing, such as terms “crazy,” “lazy,” or “loco/loca.” A strength of this population is the strong family networks so encouraging family involvement can help reduce the stigma.
In conclusion, the mental health stigma is an issue globally but especially in Latinx communities. If you or someone you know is affected by mental health stigma, consider addressing it with a close friend, family member and seek help from culturally competent mental health professionals.