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Latinx Identity & Mental Health

Members of the Latinx community face roughly the same prevalence of mental illness as individuals with other identities.

However, there is evidence that the community faces elevated levels of stress, as compared to other groups, particularly non-Hispanic whites, which can lead to struggles with mental illness. Sources of this stress include immigration, family stress, economics, and discrimination/bias, with the latter becoming a larger factor during an increasingly hostile political climate. While this increased stress likely hinders members of the Latinx community from maintaining their mental well-being, many of those affected are hesitant to seek out support due to the stigma that surrounds topics of mental illness.

Often, this stigma comes from misunderstandings or lack of awareness concerning mental health within the Latinx community, causing those who experience psychological distress to feel alienated from their community out of fear of being labeled “loco/a”. This causes many who face these difficulties to present with physical symptoms that are less likely to draw this stigma, such as nervousness, tiredness, or other ailments.

However, even when someone is willing to seek professional help, they may struggle to find a provider who is capable of culturally competent and relevant care. Latinx mental health care providers are underrepresented in the profession, meaning a Latinx individual typically must look to someone who does not share their identity for treatment.

As many therapists lack knowledge of the cultural nuances present in the diverse Latinx community and may lack the language skills to effectively communicate with a patient with limited knowledge of English, Latinx individuals may find the treatment they are able to receive ineffective. For this reason, many may turn to other coping mechanisms, such as religion, listening to music, and support from friends and family.

For resources on how to provide support for someone close to you or find services if you are experiencing distress, along with other information, please see the links below:

  • Latino Mental Health: Finding The Right Provider For You: A resource that provides guides for finding mental health professionals with sufficient cultural competency to provide you with effective care. Information includes questions to ask a prospective therapist to determine their ability to provide treatment that is culturally nuanced and aware.
  • Supporting Someone Close to You: Due to some of the issues outlined above, many AAPIs are hesitant to seek out professional help and so turn to their personal networks for support. This site offers assistance for those who are looking to aid an individual close to them.
  • Latino Mental Health Program: A special program for people from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin Americathat covers the fields of psychiatry, psychology, social work, and family therapy. Established by the Cambridge Health Alliance, it offers bilingual services from their office in Cambridge and may be available for referrals to other providers.
  • Arbour Health System’s Latino Mental Health Services: Arbour Health System’s Latino mental health services in Lawrence, Mass. offer intensive, short-term treatment for Latino adults with psychiatric or co-occurring psychiatric and addiction disorders. Psychotherapy and psychoeducation groups are all conducted in Spanish, and the program is staffed by bilingual and bicultural clinicians and doctors who can address cultural and societal issues within the context of treatment.
  • Rest for Resistance: a space for people of color in the LGBTQ community to find healing and support for their mental well-being