Breaking News
June 18, 2018 - Study demonstrates increased levels of gum disease in people at risk of rheumatoid arthritis
June 18, 2018 - Ebola & Marburg | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
June 18, 2018 - Brains, eyes, testes: off-limits for transplants?
June 18, 2018 - Drug used to treat myelofibrosis can awaken ‘dormant’ lymphomas in the bone marrow
June 18, 2018 - New study focuses on best, cost effective practices to bridge treatment gap for brain disorders
June 18, 2018 - New study highlights predictors that prevent from achieving remission in early RA
June 18, 2018 - Study highlights potential use of blood biomarkers as diagnostic tool for sleep apnea
June 18, 2018 - Lenabasum has acceptable safety and tolerability in diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis
June 18, 2018 - Bone density scans could help determine likelihood of cardiovascular disease
June 18, 2018 - Mechanical thrombectomy appears to be important therapy for acute stroke in very old patients
June 18, 2018 - Novel compound as effective as FDA-approved antibiotics for treating deadly infections
June 18, 2018 - Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Announces FDA Orphan Drug Designation for Olinciguat for the Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease
June 18, 2018 - Surgical outcomes equivalent whether physician anesthesiologist assisted by nurse anesthetist or AA
June 18, 2018 - Studies provide insight into molecular changes prior to onset of arthritis
June 18, 2018 - Dyaco unveils specialist medical and rehabilitation equipment range in the UK
June 18, 2018 - Engineers develop algorithm to monitor joints of patients with arthritis
June 18, 2018 - Women with higher vitamin D blood levels have lower risk for breast cancer
June 18, 2018 - New studies help elucidate role of sleep in chronic pain
June 18, 2018 - Researchers link red meat sensitivity spread by ticks with heart disease
June 18, 2018 - Research explores role of autopsy in cardiovascular medicine
June 18, 2018 - Motif Bio Submits NDA for Iclaprim
June 18, 2018 - NIH-funded researchers identify target for chikungunya treatment
June 18, 2018 - Negative emotions are murkier, less distinct in adolescence
June 18, 2018 - Gut microbiome may be potential contributor to depression, anxiety in people with obesity
June 18, 2018 - Canakinumab reduces gout rate by more than half in atherosclerosis patients, study shows
June 18, 2018 - What Does the Future Hold?
June 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for Treatment of Refractory or Relapsed Primary Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma (PMBCL)
June 18, 2018 - School cliques don’t always click
June 18, 2018 - Three experts from The Tinnitus Clinic contribute to major review on pulsatile tinnitus
June 18, 2018 - Unwieldy health costs often stand between teachers and fatter paychecks
June 18, 2018 - Link between frailty and mortality remains unchanged despite lower death rates, study finds
June 18, 2018 - Sleep disorders appear to be first sign of serious neurological diseases
June 18, 2018 - Childhood, adult obesity raise risk of developing hip and knee osteoarthritis
June 18, 2018 - Study unravels ‘blood stem cell niche’ puzzle
June 18, 2018 - People with heart problems do not take enough exercise, shows study
June 18, 2018 - Strong Link Identified Between T2DM and Parkinson’s Disease
June 18, 2018 - Early childhood interventions show mixed results on child development
June 18, 2018 - Chronic use of opioids related to increased risk of fracture nonunion
June 18, 2018 - AHA: Family Perseveres After Losing Father to Heart Attack
June 18, 2018 - Oral propranolol seems safe for infantile hemangioma
June 18, 2018 - New study gives explanation for food’s prominence in memory
June 18, 2018 - First photoactive drug to fight Parkinson’s disease
June 18, 2018 - Patient’s self-evaluation of personality disorders not as far off as previously perceived
June 18, 2018 - Upadacitinib Monotherapy Meets All Primary and Ranked Secondary Endpoints Versus Methotrexate in a Phase 3 Study in Rheumatoid Arthritis
June 18, 2018 - Vitamin B3 has a positive effect on damaged nerve cells in Parkinson’s patients
June 17, 2018 - Sunovion Announces FDA Acceptance of New Drug Application for Apomorphine Sublingual Film (APL-130277)
June 17, 2018 - Bid to beat obesity focuses on fat that keeps us warm
June 17, 2018 - Work Stress May Increase Risk of Developing Atrial Fibrillation
June 17, 2018 - New Zealand’s secret recipe for active school travel: The neighborhood built environment
June 17, 2018 - New Medscape report reveals sexual harassment rate of physicians
June 17, 2018 - Surgical Blood Transfusions Tied to Clot Risk
June 17, 2018 - CDC chief makes $375K, far exceeding his predecessors’ pay
June 17, 2018 - Education linked to higher risk of short-sightedness
June 17, 2018 - Patients with Moderate-to-Severe Ulcerative Colitis Achieved Clinical and Endoscopic Remission with Mirikizumab in Phase 2 Trial
June 17, 2018 - UA registers a more customised multifocal lens to correct presbyopia
June 17, 2018 - U.S. FDA and European Medicines Agency Accept Regulatory Submissions for Review of Talazoparib for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients with an Inherited BRCA Mutation
June 17, 2018 - Vaginal estrogen tablets, moisturizers and placebo gel all can improve vaginal discomfort
June 17, 2018 - Addition of Bezafibrate Beneficial in Primary Biliary Cholangitis
June 17, 2018 - Radiation Therapy for Cancer – National Cancer Institute
June 17, 2018 - Technology could help pregnant women detect health complications
June 17, 2018 - Study finds drop in frequent use of ED after Affordable Care Act
June 17, 2018 - Do Antipsychotic Meds for Kids Raise Diabetes Risk?
June 17, 2018 - New light shed on mechanisms of paediatric epilepsy
June 17, 2018 - People who deeply grasp the pain or happiness of others also process music differently in the brain
June 16, 2018 - Scientists discover how cancer-targeting ‘Natural Killer’ cells are fueled in the body
June 16, 2018 - New England Journal of Medicine Publishes Pivotal Cemiplimab Trials Showing Positive Results in Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
June 16, 2018 - Annual Report to the Nation: overall cancer mortality continues to decline, prostate cancer mortality has stabilized
June 16, 2018 - Ibuprofen, acetaminophen more effective than opioids in treating dental pain
June 16, 2018 - Intra-Cellular Therapies Initiates Rolling Submission of New Drug Application for Lumateperone for Treatment of Schizophrenia
June 16, 2018 - Price competition for generic drugs linked to increase in manufacturing-related recalls
June 16, 2018 - Researchers develop biomimetic nanosystem to deliver therapeutic proteins to target tumors
June 16, 2018 - Negative Pressure Wound Tx No Benefit for Lower Limb Open Fx
June 16, 2018 - Should I Get Screened for Prostate Cancer?
June 16, 2018 - Biochemist, physicist team to see antibacterial TCS deform mitochondria
June 16, 2018 - New 2D Superresolution mode for ZEISS Airyscan offers higher resolution in live cell imaging
June 16, 2018 - Money Spurs Those With Heart Disease to Step Lively
June 16, 2018 - Lower Dose of Prostate Cancer Drug with Food
June 16, 2018 - New findings demonstrate how the food we eat affects biochemical signals in the gut
June 16, 2018 - Scientists develop method to determine metabolic activity of neural networks
June 16, 2018 - Topical gel may lower breast cancer risk in women with dense breast tissue

Latino Mental Health

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print


Video Transcript

Latinos are no different when it comes to prevalence of mental health conditions when compared to the rest of the population. However, your concerns or experiences and how you understand and cope with these conditions may be different.

This page focuses on the common challenges many Latinos face in seeking mental health care so that you know how to find help.

Why does mental health matter?

Without mental health we can’t be healthy. Any part of the body—including the brain—can get sick. We all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time that are caused by events in our lives. Mental health conditions go beyond these emotional reactions to specific situations. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and in our mood. These changes can alter your life because they make it hard to relate to others and function like you used to. Without proper treatment, mental health conditions can worsen and make day-to-day life hard.

If you feel you or a loved one might be experiencing a mental health condition, remember that these are biological disorders. Anyone can develop a mental health problem. It isn’t you fault or your family’s fault. Seeking treatment can help you live a fulfilled life. Getting help is a way to strengthen yourself and your family for the future.

How Do Mental Health Conditions Affect the Latino Community?

Common mental health disorders among Latinos are generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcoholism. Additionally, Latina high school girls have high rates of suicide attempts.

While Latino communities show similar susceptibility to mental illness as the general population, unfortunately, we experience disparities in access to treatment and in the quality of treatment we receive. This inequality puts us at a higher risk for more severe and persistent forms of mental health conditions.

As a community, Latinos are less likely to seek mental health treatment. A 2001 Surgeon General’s report found that only 20% of Latinos with symptoms of a psychological disorder talk to a doctor about their concerns. Only 10% contact a mental health specialist. Yet, without treatment, certain mental health conditions can worsen and become disabling.

Issues to Consider

Different reasons prevent Latinos from seeking treatment and receiving quality care.

Lack of Information and Misunderstanding about Mental Health

Overall, the Latino community does not talk about mental health issues. There is little information about this topic. We cannot know what nobody has taught us. Many Latinos do not seek treatment because they don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions or know where to find help.

This lack of information also increases the stigma associated with mental health issues. Many Latinos do not seek treatment for fear of being labeled as “locos” (crazy) or as having a mental health condition because this may cause shame.

Don’t let the fear of what others may think prevent you or a loved one from getting better. One in 5 people is affected by mental illness. This means that, even if we don’t talk about it, most likely, we have one of these illnesses or know someone who does.

Privacy Concerns

Many of us know el dicho “la ropa sucia se lava en casa” (similar to “don’t air your dirty laundry in public”). The Latino community tends to be very private and often do not want to talk in public about challenges at home.

Don’t worry. Seeking mental health treatment doesn’t mean you will lose your privacy. Your diagnosis, treatment plan and discussions with your mental health providers are confidential. They cannot share this information with others without your permission. Furthermore, mental health providers are professionals that understand what you are going through. They will listen without judgment.

Language Barriers

Language barriers can make communicating with doctors difficult. Many medical professionals today do speak some medical Spanish, particularly in parts of the country with large Latino populations, but they may not necessarily understand cultural issues.

If you or your loved one that needs help does not speak English, or does not speak it well, you have the right to receive language-access services at institutions that receive funding from the federal government. You have the right to request a trained interpreter and to receive forms and information in Spanish.

Lack of Health Insurance

Latinos account for one-third of the uninsured. A significant percentage of the Latino population works low-wage jobs or is self-employed. Often these Latinos do not have health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act is making it easier and more affordable to get insured. Learn more at https://www.cuidadodesalud.gov/es/.

Misdiagnosis

Cultural differences may lead doctors to misdiagnose Latinos. For instance, Latinos may describe the symptoms of depression as “nervios” (nervousness), tiredness or a physical ailment. These symptoms are consistent with depression, but doctors who are not aware of how culture influences mental health may not recognize that these could be signs of depression.

Legal Status

For immigrants who arrive without documentation, the fear of deportation can prevent them from seeking help. For example, even though millions of children of undocumented immigrants are eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, most families are afraid to register.

If you do not have papers, seek out clinics and resources that care for all persons. Latino-based organizations often provide services regardless of legal status.

Natural Medicine and Home Remedies

Some Latinos heavily relay on traditional healers and home remedies to deal with health-related issues. Mental health may not be an exception. If these healing methods are important to you, do use them. However, we encourage you to seek a mental health professional or a primary care doctor. Ask your doctor to make these healing practices part of your treatment plan. Mental health professionals have experience and knowledge of effective types of treatments and what may work for you. You may use both approaches in your road to recovery.

Faith and Spirituality

Faith and spirituality can provide support and help you deal with a mental health condition. If spirituality is important to you, talk to your doctors about how important faith is to you. Your spiritual practices can be a part of your treatment plan.

Reach out to your spiritual leaders and faith community. They might be able to provide help and support during the difficult times caused by mental health conditions. At the same time, unfortunately, sometimes faith communities can be a source of additional distress if they are not well informed and do not know how to support families dealing with these conditions.

Cultural Competence in Service Delivery

Culture—a person’s beliefs, norms, values and language—plays a key role in every aspect of our lives, including mental health. Cultural competence is a doctor’s ability to recognize and understand the role culture (yours and the doctor’s) plays in treatment and to adapt to this reality to meet your needs. Unfortunately, research has shown lack of cultural competence in mental health care. This results in misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. Latinos and other multicultural communities tend to receive poorer quality of care.

However, you can improve your odds of getting culturally sensitive care.

While we recommend you go directly to a mental health professional because this is their area of expertise, if you do not feel comfortable right away, your primary care doctor is a great place to start. Your doctor may be able to start the assessment or help you get a referral to a mental health professional.

Unfortunately, while you might prefer finding a Latino mental health professional, this is not often possible because there are a small percentage of Latino providers. The good news is that professionals are increasingly required to learn how to effectively treat people from diverse backgrounds. However, many providers still lack cultural competence and do not know how to effectively treat Latinos.

When meeting with your provider, ask questions to get a sense of his or her level of cultural sensitivity. Do not feel bad about asking questions. Providers expect and welcome questions from their patients; this helps them better understand you and what is important to you. Your questions give your doctor and health care team important information about you, such as your main health care concerns. Here are some questions you could ask:

  • Have you treated other Latinos?
  • Have you received training in cultural competence or on Latino mental health?
  • How do you see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment?
  • How do you plan to integrate my beliefs and practices in my treatment?

A provider who understands your culture and needs will know culturally specific information. For example, you might describe what you are feeling with commonly used Latino phrases such as “Me duele el corazón.” While this literally means “my heart hurts,” it is an expression of emotional distress, not a sign of chest pain. A culturally sensitive doctor would be aware of this and would not assume you were talking about actual chest pain.

Your mental health provider will play an important role in your treatment, so make sure you can work with this person and that you communicate well together. Mention your beliefs, values and cultural characteristics. Make sure the provider understands them so that they can be considered in the course of your treatment. For example, mention whether it is important that your family be part of your treatment.

If finances are preventing you from finding help, contact a local health or mental health clinic or your local government to see what services you qualify for. You can find contact information online at findtreatment.samhsa.gov or by calling the National Treatment Referral Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). If you do not have papers, contact local Latino organizations that might be able to help or provide a referral.

Resources

  • NAMI’s Compartiendo Esperanza is a 90-minute program to increase mental health awareness in Latino communities by sharing the presenters’ journeys to recovery and exploring signs and symptoms of mental health conditions. The program also highlights how and where to find help.
  • Compartiendo Esperanza: No Hay Salud Sin Salud Mental: Through stories and quotes, this booklet provides mental health information in a sensitive manner. Recovery is possible, and this booklet tells you where to find more information, seek help and be supportive. You can preview the booklet for free or buy hard copies through the NAMI Bookstore. 
Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles