Mental Health within the Hispanic/Latino Communities

Mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well being. Why does mental health matter? It matters because without mental health, there is no way an individual can be considered healthy. Our mind is like any other part of our body. We should care for it like we would an open wound. If a wound stays untreated it will get worse and lead to an infection. Our mind is also similar. Without proper care for mental health, one’s mental state will only worsen, in result making day to day life challenging. Knowing one’s condition and being well informed on the burdens it may cause is essential in one’s mental health to work on getting better. But without being well informed, there is not much to be done.

Being apart of the latino community, I find a huge disconnect between individuals who are conversant and knowledgeable about mental health; Specifically anxiety. The greatest challenge an individual can face with anxiety is not being aware of one’s mental health and thinking they are insane. Being attentive of one’s disorder and being productive comes next. Without knowing what “it” is, how can you better yourself? In 2001, a surgeon general stated only twenty percent of latino individuals with mental health disorders talked to a doctor about their difficulties. Ten percent of those individuals contacted a mental health specialist. Is this because their household is not open to the discussion of anxiety? Is this because there is a lack of information on what mental health actually means?

Overall, we know the latino community does not openly discuss mental health. For many reasons I believe; A fear of being seen as different, strange, or weak. We cannot know something we have not been taught. If individuals apart of the latino community are informed, it does not always mean they are open to receiving help. A huge part of latino/hispanic culture is home remedies and natural medicine. Do latino individuals believe there is a cure for mental illness? I find this questions difficult to answer. From a personal standpoint, my family has always been one to use hospitals or doctors as a last resort. If a home remedy did not work, we then would see a doctor. Usually this was after my parents had tried everything they could. Not to say these remedies did not work, because nine times out of ten, they did. But do these remedies work for our mental state?

There is no way to distinguish whether or not having the same tea for years will improve your mental health, or whatever home remedy latinos muster up. But there is also no way to determine if seeing a specialist for those same amount of years will improve the status of one’s mental health. So who has power here? Which group has hierarchy? How do you differentiate an individual who has been educated and trained on mental health and compare them to an individual who is independent, and solves problems on their own because they were raised this way. Raised in a way to cultivate their own solutions. While also taking into consideration everyone’s distinct needs. What works for one person, may not always work for another.

Along with these ideas, how do we get individuals who have already seen a specialist to then go through with the necessary steps to further improve the condition of their mental health? Only five percent of HCHS/SOL’s study used medication suitable for their mental illness, even though twenty seven percent of the population had been affected. This is concerning, meaning latinos who are affected are not being adequately treated. Does knowing your mental disorder, and being aware of it mean a difference if you are not getting the right treatment?

All in all, there is a huge disconnect between persons within the latino community who are not intellectually informed on anxiety. Whether they obtain the information, they will ultimately choose to accept or deny any help from mental health professionals. Questions still remain regarding the use of home remedies, and proper mental health care. Along with these ideas I am curious to uncover the struggles latino adolescents go through. Specifically looking into youths who have recently migrated to America. What circumstances lead to them leaving their homes and starting new lives. The stressors that come along with this, and if migrating has had a negative impact on their mental status. Mental health within the latino/hispanic community is not openly discussed and the cause of this should be changed.

Wassertheil-Smoller, S,. (2014). Largest study of hispanics/latinos find depression and anxiety rates vary widely among groups. Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Potochnick, S. R., & Perreira, K. M. (2010). Depression and Anxiety among First-Generation Immigrant Latino Youth: Key Correlates and Implications for Future Research. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 198(7), 470–477.

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