Study: Latinos Less Likely to Get Mental Health Care, Causing Missed Work


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Latinos and blacks are less likely than whites to get the mental health services they need, and more likely to miss work as a result, according to a new study.

The study, published by California-based Rand Corporation, found a relationship between untreated mental health problems and multiple absences from work. This has a big economic toll on Latino and black individuals and families, as multiple work absences usually mean lost pay or even lost jobs, reports California Healthline.

The data shows that mental health problems caused 12% of blacks and 9.4% of Latino to miss four or more days of work a year, both higher rates than whites (7.9%).

“This could have important repercussions for black [and Latino] Californians’ ability to earn income and stay employed in the face of mental health problems,” Nicole Eberhart, a Rand scientist, told California Healthline.

Why Are Mental Health Issues Being Left Untreated?

Latinos are far more likely than their peers to have mental health issues. These issues usually go unaddressed and untreated, according to a Salud America! research review.

For Latinos, there a variety of reasons mental issues are untreated:
• The complexity and intimidations of the healthcare system and health insurance.
Fear of deportation, mainly those in immigrant communities.
• Culturally speaking, a Latino being diagnosed with a mental illness is considered a sign of weakness, or it is a personal issue that one should keep to themselves.

“Community centers and nonprofit organizations that are easily accessible to immigrant families should consider incorporating culturally-relevant mental health programs into other programs, especially those that include physical activity and wellness,” according to the Salud America! research review.

Helping Latinos Access Mental Healthcare

In Maricopa County, Ariz., the leaders of Adelante Healthcare System recognized that local residents continued to face cultural, language, and other barriers to proper primary and mental healthcare.

They felt compelled to change the entire approach of their system of clinics.

Adelante Healthcare began to seek grants and partnerships to add personnel to expand beyond their historical focus on primary care.

Today their new team—primary care physicians, specialists, bilingual health coaches, mental and behavioral health social workers, and others who connect families to insurance, health education, and more—provides personalized care that engages patients in preventing health problems.

“With this model we would have this extended care team that truly supports the patient,” said Lisa Blue, director of clinical programs, told Salud America!.

In California, Steven Lopez, a professor of psychology and social work at the University of Southern California, and his team developed an awareness campaign in Los Angeles County to help Latino families identify signs of psychosis and seek help before crisis.

So far, they’ve helped 45 Latino families.

But many still wait too long to seek help.

“One story we hear so often is that families don’t recognize their son or daughter has an illness,” Lopez told California Healthline. “When you’re not thinking mental health, you’re not thinking of services.”

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latinos remain without health insurance coverage

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