Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review



Abstract Latino youth are far more likely than their peers to have mental health issues. These often go unaddressed and untreated. Why? Immigration, poverty, bullying, and other family and social factors can stress Latino youth. But there’s good news, too. Programs are emerging to reduce family, school, and community stress. These can positively impact mental health among this population. Promising policies, while few, also are emerging. Read the News Release (PDF) Read the Issue Brief (PDF) Explore success stories and find tools to take action! Contents Introduction & Methods. This Salud America! research review assesses available research about mental health and access to care among Latino youth. This review also examines programs and policies to tackle ...

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Mental Health Research: Future Research


mom teacher counselor girl depressed sad bully bullying

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Current research is lacking Latino youth suffer disproportionately from mental health issues compared to their peers. But there is a relative lack of research dedicated to interventions aimed at addressing the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems in this population. Family and community interventions are needed Immigration, acculturation, discrimination, and poverty-related stress have all been identified as issues that affect Latino youth, and these often overlap and interact in complicated ways. While physical activity-based interventions have been shown to have a positive effect on mental health among Latino children, family and community-based interventions are also necessary to confront ...

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Mental Health Research: Policy Implications


leaders should mental health programs latino kids

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Conclusions Latino children and adolescents are disproportionately affected by mental health problems compared to their peers, especially Latinas, who have the highest rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt of any group. The factors affecting the mental health of Latino youth are complex and include the immigration process, acculturation, poverty-related stress, bullying, and discrimination. Latino children are less likely to receive help for mental health problems, and their parents are less likely to recognize and seek help for their children’s mental health issues. The barriers to the receipt and use of mental health services among Latino children include cultural differences in the ...

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Mental Health Research: Latino Community and School Issues


latino kids face bullying at school

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Community stressors are linked to Latino kids' depression, etc. Garcia and Lindgren recruited 53 Latino adolescents and caretakers to participate in focus groups in which participants would discuss mental health stressors. There were two focus groups each for boys, girls, mothers, and fathers. The boys’ groups generally focused their discussions on racism and discrimination, particularly racial profiling. One of the boys’ groups consisted of adolescents recruited from a community center with a program for truants. They discussed stressors that were not identified in the non-truant group, including gang activity, violence, and substance abuse. In the girls’ groups, discrimination and immigration were ...

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Mental Health Research: Latino Family Issues


Latino child and parent communicatoon and suicide

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Cultural identify affects Latino youth self-esteem Umaña-Taylor and Updegraff used data from a longitudinal study on Latino adolescents’ ethnic identity to determine whether self-esteem, cultural orientation, and ethnic identity had a mediating or moderating effect on the relationship between discrimination and depression. The study included 273 Latino adolescents, 84 percent of whom identified as Mexican-American, and 72 percent of whom were born in the U.S. Participants completed a questionnaire that included questions related to self-esteem, depressive symptoms, cultural orientation, ethnic identity, and perceived discrimination. Acculturation, the process by which recent immigrants adopt cultural ...

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Mental Health Research: Introduction & Methods


Latino kid holding basketball

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Introduction Currently, over 56 million Latinos live in the United States, making up almost 18 percent of the total U.S. population. By 2060, it’s projected that there will be 119 million Latinos in the U.S.1 In addition to being the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the country, Latinos are also the youngest: 17.9 million Latinos, or roughly one third of the U.S. Latino population, are under the age of 18. Even more striking, almost half of U.S.-born Latinos are younger than 18.2 Latino youth are more likely to have mental health issues than their peers, a concern that should be taken even more seriously considering the growing population of young Latinos in the U.S. Twenty-two percent ...

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Mental Health Research: Latino Kids’ Access to Care


Latino kids' access to mental health care services

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Latino kids have unmet mental health care service needs Latino children and other racial/ethnic minority youth are less likely to receive the necessary mental health care compared with their white peers.8,9 A cross-sectional study of data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW) addressed mental health issues among Latino children ages 2-14 who were living with at least one biological parent (31% were preschool aged 2-5 years, 45.9% were school-aged 6-10 years, and 23.3% were adolescent 11-14 years). Of the three groups, adolescents had the highest rate of clinical need for mental health services at 60.9 percent, followed by school-aged children (38.3%) and preschool children ...

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Mental Health Research: The Migration Experience


Latino farm boy in poverty and food insecurity

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Impact of immigration on the Latino kids' mental health Ko and Perreira conducted a cross-sectional study of interview data from the Latino Adolescent, Migration, Health, and Adaptation (LAMHA) project to understand the impact of immigration on the mental health of Latino children. The study included 283 pairs of first-generation Latino immigrant youth ages 12-19 and their caregivers. Participants were subjected to a survey with questions about mental health and experiences related to migration and acculturation (the process by which recent immigrants adopt cultural norms of their new country). Of these participants, 20 Latino adolescents ages 14-18, most of whom had emigrated from Mexico with their parents ...

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Mental Health Research: Programs with Promise


Latino kids PE class and affect on sadness

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Physical activity is linked to mental health Several studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between physical activity and mental health among Latino children. The converse is also true. Jernigan, et al., in a study of preadolescents (46.8% Latino), found that greater negative emotional symptoms at the baseline interview predicted a significantly increased BMI at a 2-year follow-up for Latino students (p=.03).45 In a cross-sectional review of data from the Healthy Youth/Healthy Adults study, which included 1,870 Latino and non-Latino white adolescents (77% were Latino) ages 14-18 from Nueces County, Tex., Brosnahan et al. investigated whether there was a relationship between physical activity ...

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Mental Health Research: Issues Facing Latino Kids


Suicide rates among Latina students

This is part of our Mental Health & Latino Kids: A Research Review » Latina youth have a very high rate of thinking about suicide Latino females in grades 9-12 had the highest rate of suicidal ideation, at 25.6 percent, compared to 22.8 percent among their white peers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health’s assessment of Latino mental health based on results from the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS), a self-report survey of high school students. The rate for Latino males of the same age group was much lower (12%), but it was still higher than that of white peers (11.5%). Latino females also reported the highest rate of suicide attempt (15.1% versus 9.8%), and Latino males reported a higher rate than their ...

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