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Hispanic Communities and Mental Health

The United States is made up of a variety of cultures and subcultures from all around the world. The Hispanic community, like all other communities, brings its own culture factors to the equation of mental health. For many there is shared language, religious affiliations, and a strong connection to family.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness, “Approximately 34% of Hispanic/Latinx adults with mental illness receive treatment each year compared to the U.S. average of 45%.” This striking disparity is due to a number of factors that are listed below.

Barriers to accessing mental health

Language – Even though the United States does not have an official language, the majority of the country, including doctors, stores, government offices and many others cater to the English speaker. This can make it very difficult for those who only speak Spanish to find the assistance they need. While discussing mental health issues is already a very difficult task for most people, it becomes exponentially harder when trying to find the words you’re looking for in an unfamiliar language.

Cultural stigma surrounding mental health – Mental health is starting to become something that is openly talked about but, in some communities, there is still a lot of taboo related to the subject. Because family bonds are so close people may be afraid to talk about their mental struggle, worrying that they might bring unwanted attention to their family.

Lack of access – Another large factor for many families and individuals is the inability to access mental health resources. This can be due to:

  1. No paid time off or sick time
  2. Childcare arrangements
  3. Health insurance

Lack of culturally-aware treatment – The National Alliance on Mental Illness gives a great example of this. “An individual may describe symptoms of depression as “nervios” (nervousness), tiredness or as a physical ailment. These symptoms are consistent with depression, but doctors who are not trained about how culture influences a person’s interpretation of their symptoms may assume it’s a different issue.”

Lack of representation in healthcare providers – If someone comes in who speaks a different language than the provider then a translator will need to be called to make sure the provider has a total understanding of what the patient is trying to explain.

Mental Health Resources

When you schedule that first visit with a therapist or counselor, you may need to be your own advocate to make sure you get the care you need and deserve.

It’s important to feel like your doctor not only heard what you were saying but actually paid attention and cared about you as a person. After you finish visiting with a health care provider for the first time about your mental health, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

  • Did I feel heard? Did I feel my provider understood my concerns?
  • Did my provider communicate effectively with me?
  • Is my provider willing to integrate my beliefs, practices, identity and cultural background into my treatment plan?
  • Did I feel like I was treated with respect and dignity?
  • Do I feel like my provider understands and relates well with me?
  • If using an interpreter: did my healthcare provider use eye contact with me or only communicate with my interpreter?

If you feel like you may be struggling with mental health issues, we have free assessments on our website and additional resources that can help you start to learn more about your mental health.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

It's time to feel better

We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.