By Jimena Somilleda
Within the Latinx Community, mental health has been deemed a sensitive topic with a lot of stigmas and controversy surrounding it. As of 2020, only 33% of Latinx people with a mental illness receive treatment each year (Cardinal Innovations Healthcare). There are many factors that contribute to many Latinxs not receiving the proper mental health treatment. Some of those factors include the stigma that surrounds mental health, language barriers, Hispanic culture, and even religion (Morales-Brown). These factors pose a barrier for many Latinxs in receiving the mental health treatment and help that they need.
In the Latinx community, discussing negative emotions and problems with mental health is not a common occurrence. It is customary in the Latinx community to sweep negative feelings and mental health concerns under the rug and carry on with this weight. To admit that one needs mental help in the Latinx community is to say that there was an error somewhere along the way that prevents both the individual and the Hispanic and Latinx community to move forward, especially in a country where the Latinx/Hispanic community is a minority. There is a popular misconception that struggling with mental health is an indication of a weakness that brings shame to a family (Cardinal Innovations Healthcare). Because of this stigma, many Latinx people struggling with mental health refuse to seek the help they need.
Besides the widespread stigma that surrounds mental health, there are many other impediments that prevent and discourage many Latinx people from seeking the mental help they need. A huge hurdle that prevents many from seeking help is the issue that arises from a language barrier. In the United States, only 5.5% of psychiatrists offer bilingual help, making it even harder for many to seek help in their native language (Cardinal Innovations Healthcare).
Spanish-speaking and bilingual psychological professionals are an essential part of reversing the stigma around mental health and providing the help that many need. When people are unable to express their negative feelings and emotions it discourages them from seeking help and treatment.
Hispanic culture also plays a role in preventing many Latinx people from receiving the mental health that they need. There are many fundamental values that are centric to a Hispanic culture that perpetuate the stigma around mental health. Such values include machismo, familismo, and religion. Machismo is a value that upholds patriarchal ideas and instills toxic masculinity among many Latinx men. Familismo is the value that emphasizes the importance of family above all else. In addition, many popular Hispanic religions are centered around being holy and pure for God (Morales-Brown). All of these values in some way, contribute to the growing issue of mental health within the Latinx community. These morals and values emphasize neglecting one’s own needs as a matter of humility and selflessness (Morales-Brown). Failing to attend to one’s own needs furthers the severity of mental health that is plaguing the Hispanic/Latinx community.
Mental health is a serious matter that affects many Hispanic and Latinx individuals. Seeking help and proper treatment is oftentimes perceived as shameful and taboo. Additionally, Hispanic/Latinx culture, language barriers, and the stigma around mental health make it even harder to receive help. It’s time to rethink the way mental health is perceived and encourage reaching out for help when needed without the fear of feeling “othered”.
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