Health

Mental health crisis among Latinos calls for accessible treatment, candid conversations

Mental health crisis among Latinos calls for accessible treatment, candid conversations
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Amid growing mental health concerns among Latinos is a new push from counselors, celebrities and influencers to provide access to treatment and create safe conversations within communities.

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 18% of the Latinx community reported having a mental illness in 2020. Of those, 1 in 4, or more than 24%, were categorized as having a serious mental illness.

Research on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website also found that 40.3% of Hispanic people experienced symptoms of depression, compared to 25.3% of white people. Latinos also face differences in access and quality of mental health treatment, according to the American Psychiatric Association, which lists language barriers, lack of insurance and “lack of culturally tailored services and culturally competent mental health professionals” as the many contributing factors.

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Stars like Selena Gomez and J Balvin, who have spoken publicly about their struggles with depression and anxiety, have launched their own platforms in hopes of combating the mental health crisis in their communities.

Calvin recently co-founded OYE, a Spanish/English wellness app that provides support to people struggling with mental health issues. Gomez, meanwhile, co-founded Wondermind, a startup that aims to give users the tools and resources they need to improve their mental health.

“There are places people go when they need help, and it’s a shame they cost ridiculous amounts of money,” Gomez told ABC News in April, speaking about what she hopes to achieve with Wondermind. “But [as with] Planned Parenthood, there’s a place for women to feel good and understood, and that’s what I want for mental health. It’s so important to me and I can’t emphasize enough how much I care about you and how much I really, really want people to be understood, seen and heard.”

PHOTO: Jacqueline Garcia is a licensed clinical social worker who creates videos on TikTok under the username @therapylux to promote candid conversations about mental health.

ABC news

Jacqueline Garcia is a licensed clinical social worker who creates videos on TikTok under the username @therapylux to promote candid conversations about mental health.

In addition to increasing access to treatment, therapists such as Jacqueline Garcia are also working to remove the stigma surrounding mental health among Latinos.

“Start these conversations with your family, your loved ones, your friends and watch that language develop in your life,” said Garcia, a licensed clinical social worker. “Because you may come from houses that weren’t talked about here, it was declared invalid.”

Garcia, who makes videos on TikTok under the username @therapylux, said social media has been instrumental in enabling and promoting candid conversations about mental health.

“There are more Latina creators talking about their own mental health issues, providing more connection and security for other people,” she said.

One such Latina creator is Kayla Suarez, who co-hosts the “Teenager Therapy” podcast, which shares her own mental health issues.

“We don’t talk about it at all at my house,” said Suarez, a teenager herself.

“I think it’s incredibly important to talk about mental health,” she added. “For starters, breaking those generational curses, like keeping everything in the bottle.”

As discussions about mental health spread among Latino communities, so does the number of people seeking help. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2017, approximately 8% of Hispanic or Latino people in the U.S. received mental health treatment or counseling. That number rose to just under 11% in 2020.

“It really can be just one person in the family going through a change in the way your relatives look at things,” Suarez said.

Karolina Rivas and Laura Machuca Pacheco contributed to this story.

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