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July 7, 2023

Mental Health and the Latino Community

by Diana Creech, LCSW-A

The Latino community is the second largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States. According to the 2020 census, over 62.1 million Latino people are living in the U.S., about 18.9% of the total population. In most Latino communities’ mental health is usually not a priority. Whether it is due to cultural norms or lack of access, there is a huge disparity in mental health treatment among the Latino population of the United States.

Prevalence Of Mental Health Issues within the Latino Community

In 2019 death by suicide was the second highest cause of death for the Latino community. Latino girls aged 9-12 had higher suicide attempts than their white counterparts at a staggering 30% higher rate. Studies have shown that older adults and younger children are the most susceptible to mental distress regarding immigration and acculturation.

A big portion of Latino people in this country are immigrants who have traveled to find their “American Dream” but, throughout their journey to arriving in this country, many of them face traumatic events. Others sacrifice time with their families to come to the United States and send money back to their home country. This leaves many Latinos longing for reunification with their family and sometimes the inability to see loved ones for decades. These traumatic circumstances often lead to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mood disorders.

Barriers to Access in Mental Health Care

Latino communities show similar or higher statistics when it comes to mental health as other communities, but there is a much higher rate of disparity when it comes to treatment. More than 50% of Latino adults ages 18-25 may not receive treatment although they have a serious mental health issue. Only 35.1% of Latino adults will receive treatments for their mental health as opposed to the United States average of 46.2%. There are many factors to barriers to access but some of the most common are lack of health insurance/poverty, language barrier, and stigma.

About 17% of the Latino population in the U.S. lives in poverty. This results in many Latinos being without insurance, a study done by Kaiser found that about 20% of nonelderly Latinos are uninsured. Not having medical insurance means less peace of mind, leading to more stress and anxiety. As well as families yearning for help in any capacity regarding welfare. There are very few programs throughout our country that will help undocumented Latino’s causing a harder strain on that portion of the population.

Many Latino families also fear the stigma that comes along with reaching out for mental healthcare. It can make them feel inferior and as though they are not strong enough. This comes from a long history of misinformation and mental health being seen as taboo. Due to lack of information, people may not seek treatment because they do not have an accurate description of what to expect and fear of being looked down upon.

A very small percentage, under 10%, of mental health providers describe themselves as Spanish-speaking. This leaves Latinos who feel more comfortable speaking in their native language without confident access to care. Spanish-speaking mental health professionals need to be able to engage with the Latino community and try and bridge the gap between themselves and services.

How to Increase Support

As a community, donating money and time to beneficial organizations and those that help fund clinics for Latino communities is very important. These nonprofit organizations are the backbone of the community and ensure that they attempt to help everyone they can. Reducing the stigma around mental health care in the Latino community is also a great way to help increase support by ensuring others that taking care of your mental health is just as important as other things we care for.

At Avance Care, we have several Spanish-speaking clinicians. If interested in starting therapy please reach out to our Behavioral Health department.



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