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Over a third of lower-income Latino adults living with children had frequent anxiety or depressive symptoms this past fall and winter, according to a new analysis from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.
Of those 37% who experience symptoms, many do not receive mental health services to assist them.
“This includes 33 percent of Latino adults who reported frequent anxiety symptoms, 26 percent who reported frequent depressive symptoms, and 22 percent who reported both; these rates are statistically higher than seen among their higher-income Latino peers,” according to the research center’s data.
Let’s explore the factors that contribute to these symptoms and how Latinos can seek the resources and help that they need.
What Causes These Mental Health Symptoms?
Many stressors can contribute to depressive and anxious symptoms for Latinos, especially those with children.
For starters, the COVID-19 pandemic is greatly impacting Latinos in several ways.
In addition to higher case and death rates due to COVID-19, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about unemployment and job loss for many Latinos, as well as the worsening of many health inequities. Still, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that families with at least one family member unemployed did go down from 1,906 in 2020 to 1,391 in 2021.
Latinos face other challenges such as housing inequities.
A previous study from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families reported that one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 40% of Latino and Black households with children who rent or have a mortgage reported housing insecurity.
“The legacy of discriminatory housing policies and practices exists in the form of suppressed homeownership, home equity, and wealth accumulation among Black, Latino, and immigrant families and communities, and has left them more vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic downturn,” the research center reports.
Food insecurity also plays a role in adding stress to Latino parents.
According to a Household Pulse Survey, “Hispanic and Black households with children in which the respondent did not work due to COVID-19 were more likely to experience food insufficiency than comparable White households (Hispanic: 28%; Black: 30%; White: 20%).”
Barriers in Receiving Help for Mental Health Issues
Of the Latino adults that reported mental health challenges, most of them did not receive mental health services.
Rates were even lower in receiving help for those that are lower income.
Data from the research center’s analysis shows that 69% of lower-income Latino adults who lived with children younger than 18 and reported frequent symptoms of depression and anxiety did not receive medication nor therapy/counseling.
“Caregivers’ mental health has a unique contribution to the health and developmental well-being of their children,” the analysis mentions. “Reducing caregivers’ psychological distress can promote children’s developmental, behavioral, and physical health through improved parent-child interactions and family relationships.”
The research center analysis reports that “underutilization of mental health care among low-income Latino individuals can be traced to a combination of structural and cultural factors.”
Other factors contribute to the lack of access and mental health services for low-income Latinos, such as lack of health insurance.
A Salud America! resource reported that in the U.S., Latinos are uninsured nearly three times more than their white peers.
“Implicit bias against Latino and dark-skinned individuals, shortages of mental health professionals in low-income Latino communities, and limited availability of mental health care in Spanish also present barriers to accessing mental health services in the Latino community,” according to the analysis.
Mental Health Resources for Latinos
While Latinos face many mental health stressors and barriers, many organizations provide resources and assistance.
Therapy for Latinx is a database of therapists who either identify as Latinx or have worked closely with Latinx communities and understands their needs.
The website is available in both English and Spanish and offers other helpful tools and resources.
Mental Health America has Spanish-language tools and resources regarding mental health for Latinos along with articles and ways to get help.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)’s Compartiendo Esperanza is another helpful tool that includes a three-part video series to increase mental health awareness in Latino communities.
How Can You Help Latinos?
Despite the many barriers and challenges that Latinos face dealing with mental health, you too can contribute to making a difference.
You can also advocate for yourself, loved ones, and your community by downloading a Salud America! Health Equity Report Card.
The report card assists in accessing your community data on healthcare, education, health disparities, and other resources.
You can have a voice and advocate for people going through mental illnesses challenges by presenting the Health Equity Report Card to your city’s leadership.