To understand mental health issues within the Latino/Hispanic community, it’s important to note the differences of this diverse and complex American population. Whether a person identifies as Latino, Latina, Latinx, or Hispanic, there are shared cultural factors that present problems for mental health and treatment among this community. [middle-callout]
Mental Health Facts In The Latino/Hispanic Community
Mental health disorders, such as major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, are common among this diverse community. Unfortunately, a lower number of individuals in this community receive treatment, which can increase the risk of more severe mental or behavioral health problems. Consider some facts about mental health disorders in this population:
- roughly 8.6 million Latino/Hispanic adults had a mental health disorder, substance use disorder, or both in 2018
- around 1.3 million individuals or 3.3 percent of adults in the Latino/Hispanic community had both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder
- roughly 6.9 million individuals, or 16.9 percent of adults, had any type of mental health disorder, and about 1.5 million people had a serious condition in 2018
- roughly 8.6 percent of Latino/Hispanic adults between 18 and 25 years of age had suicidal thoughts in 2018 compared to 7 percent in 2008
- among Latino/Hispanic adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, almost fourteen percent had suicidal thoughts in 2018
Although these facts provide insight into the prevalence of mental health issues in the Latino/Hispanic community, the reality is likely underreported because of barriers and access to treatment.
Barriers To Mental Health Care In The Latino/Hispanic Community
When it comes to treatment for mental health problems, roughly one-third or 33 percent of adults in the Latino/Hispanic community undergo this type of care. This is lower than the average of 43 percent for adults in the U.S. overall. For Latino/Hispanic adults suffering from any type of mental health disorder, roughly 67 percent did not receive treatment. For those who have a serious mental health disorder, around 44 percent did not receive treatment. Several problems and barriers can make it more difficult for this population to seek and receive quality treatment for mental health disorders, including:
Stigma About Mental Health Issues
The Latino/Hispanic community experiences stigma about mental health conditions, including shame or fear of being shunned by loved ones for having a mental health disorder. This is mainly due to a lack of information about these types of disorders in the community. Some members of this community also refuse to seek treatment over privacy concerns, but it’s important to understand that treatment sessions with mental health care professionals are strictly confidential.
Cultural Competency Problems
The vast cultural diversity among this population can sometimes cause doctors to misdiagnose patients with a Lainto or Hispanic background. Although cultural competency is improving among healthcare providers, some doctors may lack training in this area or fail to diagnose issues like depression.
For those in the Latino/Hispanic community who only speak Spanish or do not speak English well, language barriers can result in difficulty finding treatment or a reluctance to seek treatment in general.
Health Insurance Coverage
It’s estimated that almost 20 percent of Hispanic or Latino people do not have health insurance in the United States. When people lack health insurance, they’re unfortunately faced with fewer options for receiving mental and behavioral health care.
Undocumented members of the Latino community are much less likely to seek treatment for mental health problems due to fears of deportation. To overcome barriers and improve mental health, it’s important for members of this population to find culturally competent providers and receive individualized treatment that recognizes their culture or heritage.