Latinos and Mental Health

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthLatinos are no different when it comes to commonness of mental health conditions when compared to the rest of their peers. However, your concerns or experiences and how you understand and cope with these conditions may be different. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) common mental health disorders among Latinos are generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Additionally, NAMI states Latina high school girls have high rates of suicide attempts. As a community, Latinos are less likely to seek mental health treatment. A recent Surgeon General’s report found that only 20 percent of Latinos with symptoms of a psychological disorder talk to a doctor about their concerns. Only ten percent contact a mental health specialist. Different reasons prevent Latinos from seeking treatment and receiving 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. One in five 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.

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.

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.

According to NAMI, when deciding to seek help, questions help to gauge a provider’s sense of his or her of cultural sensitivity. Do not feel bad about asking questions. 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?

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

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