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The Hispanic and Latino Communities Deserve And Need To Feel and Be Seen More Than We Know

I have a feeling many of us feel this way and that a lot of folks also do not realize that the Hispanic and Latino (Latinx) population in California, and especially Los Angeles, is the majority as far as our population is concerned. With 39.52% of the total population, Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority in California. When I lean into this, I think of how many of these individuals are not seen for their value and the hard work that many have to do in order to exist in a very rich state. I also know that mental health is a problem for these individuals and that there is a stigma attached to mental health that runs deep in the culture.



The Mental Health Stigma They May Feel Is Real


People in the Hispanic/Latinx community also can be very private and may not want to publicly talk about challenges at home or in their lives. This can continue the cycle of stigma about mental health within the community, as talking about it can be viewed as taboo. Many in the Latinx community are familiar with the phrase “la ropa sucia se lava en casa” (similar to “don’t air your dirty laundry in public”). Some people do not seek treatment for mental illness out of fear of being labeled as “locos” (crazy) or bringing shame and  unwanted attention to their families. Additionally, faith communities may be a source of distress if they are not well informed and do not know how to support families dealing with mental health conditions.

Stigma within the Hispanic/Latinx community can also lead to a lack of information as individuals may not recognize the symptoms of mental health conditions or know where to seek help. In turn, this may cause individuals to not seek treatment.


When mental health is not commonly or openly talked about, people seeking treatment may have limited knowledge and comfort with the different types of therapy and psychiatric medications available. Other factors that may hinder individuals from getting help include:


  • Language barriers

  • Poverty

  • Less Health Insurance Coverage

  • Lack of Cultural Competence

  • Legal Status


I recently met a lovely young Hispanic man who explained to me that he has always been taught to hold his feelings in and be the "strong" one in the family. He continued to explain how this has caused him to shove in his feelings and that he has lived a lot of his adult life not feeling worthy or seen for who he is as a person. He said to me, Cathy, how can I feel seen when I do not even allow myself to see myself? He is now also one of my biggest YOU ARE ENOUGH supporters and we are working on some plans together to better help his community.


I also just launched my campaign's first Hispanic/Latinx billboard in Los Angeles and the response from the community has been amazing. I had three individuals tell me that the billboard saved their lives and that they felt that the boards were a sign for them to help others feel seen and loved. I am now on a mission to get more boards up in Los Angeles and California and am in the process of working with potential partners and sponsors. This is a must and I am passionate about helping these communities know that they are not alone when it comes time to not feeling worthy.





Resources


I know that having access to mental health resources is a big issue in the Hispanic/Latinx community. One organization that strives to provide support is NAMI. Below is a list of resources they provide.


Compartiendo Esperanza is a three-part video series that explores the journey of mental wellness in Hispanic/Latinx communities through dialogue, storytelling and a guided discussion on the following topics:


  • Youth and Mental Wellness: “Sanando Juntos”/“Healing Together”

  • Community Leaders and Mental Wellness: “Las Raíces de Nuestra Sanación”/“The Roots of Our Healing”

  • Latinx Families and Mental Wellness: “La Mesa”/“The Table”


Please note: The resources included below are not endorsed by NAMI, and NAMI is not responsible for the content of or service provided by any of these resources.


American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry -- Promotes the research, education, advocacy and support for those in the Hispanic community. Offers a “Find a Physician” feature on their website.

Therapy for Latinx -- A database of therapists who either identify as Latinx or has worked closely with and understands the unique needs of the Latinx community. The website is also offered in Spanish.

Latinx Therapy-- A database for Latinx individuals seeking a diversity of mental health and wellness resources, courses and workshops. The website also offers a national directory to help find a therapist and navigate the patient/client-mental health provider journey.

Mental Health America’s Resources for Latinx/Hispanic CommunitiesGeneral mental health Spanish-speaking resources, including a list of Spanish-language materials and Spanish-language screening tools.

Psychology Today A directory of Hispanic/Latinx therapists.




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