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Latinos are the least likely group to get help with mental health treatment, according to a recent survey.
This is due to stigma against mental illness, systemic distrust in mental health services, or lack of access to and knowledge of treatment, all of which is worsened amid COVID-19.
This is why the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers free brochures and fact sheets on mental health disorders and related topics for patients and their families, health professionals, and the general public — in English and Spanish.
“NIMH offers basic information on mental disorders and related topics in Spanish for patients and their families, health professionals, and the public,” according to NIMH information. “Printed materials can be ordered free of charge and are available in bulk quantities for distribution at clinics, schools, and community events.”
How Do the New Bilingual Materials Help Latinos Learn about Mental Health Issues Treatment?
A lack of knowledge of mental health is a major concern for Latinos, according to a recent study from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).
The study found that some Latinos want to handle problems themselves, did not think their problems were severe, or did not believe that treatment would work.
“Communication is essential to diagnosing mental disorders, so understanding what patients are expressing is critical,” said Dr. Diana Lorenzo, psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health, said in a statement. “Using an interpreter may help, but a psychiatrist who speaks the patient’s native language — and can interpret cultural nuances and jargon — is often most effective.”
NIMH’s new bilingual materials aim to help Latinos to understand more about mental health.
Some of the major topics covered are:
NIMH also has bilingual tip sheets on stress management and helping someone in emotional pain.
“NIMH’s mission is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure,” they write.
Why Is Mental Health Important for Latinos?
The current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people’s mental health. People from all over the world have reported increased levels of stress and anxiety.
A recent poll found that over 20% of Latinos say they suffer increased anxiety due to the pandemic and lockdown. 15.7% say they suffer from increased stress.
Even before the pandemic, 22% of Latino youth showed depressive symptoms, according to a Salud America! research review. Fewer Latino parents reported that their child had ever used mental health care services (8%) compared to white children (14%).
For the Latino community, mental health and mental illness are often stigmatized topics, resulting in prolonged suffering in silence.
Lack of information and misunderstanding fuel the silence. Providing details about diagnoses, discussing treatment options, and answering questions may be the best way to eradicate silence and remove the stigma associate with mental health.
How Can We Advocate for Latino Mental Health Care?
Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
Many groups are stepping up for Latinos in this area.
Therapy for Latinx is a national mental health resource for the Latino community that provides resources for the Latino community to heal, thrive, and become advocates for their own mental health.
Latinx Therapy aims to break the stigma of mental health related to the Latino community. They use with self-help techniques and show how to support self and others.
The Focus on You is a self-care, mental health, and inspirational blog run by a Latina therapist.
Having mental health professionals that are bilingual in Spanish and knowledgeable about the Latino community can make a big difference.
Another big barrier is accessibility, whether through cost or location. Mental health providers should work with lower-income families to create a mental health program that doesn’t require high costs or health insurance.
How Can You to Help in the Effort to Improve Latino Mental Health Care?
Listen the Salud Talks Podcast episodes on mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Salud Talks podcast Episode 25: “Mental Health and the Global Pandemic.”
- Salud Talks podcast Episode 26: “Mindfulness During an Epidemic.”
You can also advocate for your neighbors by downloading a Salud America! Health Equity Report Card.
The report card allows you to see what access your community has to food, healthcare, education, and other resources. You can help advocate for people with mental illnesses by presenting the Health Equity Report Card to your city’s leadership!