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The Latinx/Hispanic community is made up of diverse individuals oftentimes set apart by their country of origin or ancestral history.

For the Latinx/Hispanic community, mental health and mental illness are often stigmatized topics resulting in prolonged suffering in silence. This silence compounds the range of experiences that may lead to mental health conditions including immigration, acculturation, trauma, and generational conflicts. Additionally, the Latinx/Hispanic community faces unique institutional and systemic barriers that may impede access to mental health services, resulting in reduced help-seeking behaviors.

Mental Health America (MHA) works at both the national and local levels to raise awareness about mental health. We believe that everyone at risk for mental illnesses and related disorders should receive early and effective interventions based on the unique needs of the individual. We are focused on creating materials and content that help to bridge the gap in knowledge about mental health conditions with the goal of normalizing conversations around mental health in this community.

We strive to ensure that our Spanish language materials are translated and adapted to be reflective of the various sub-groups that make up the Spanish-speaking community. A complete list of Spanish language materials, including our Spanish-language screening tools, is provided further below.

Demographics/Societal Issues

  • By 2060, the number of Latinx/Hispanic people in the United States is projected to grow to 119 million, or 28.6 percent of the population. [1]
  • 62 percent of U.S. Latinx/Hispanic people have a Mexican background, followed by 9.5 percent with a Puerto Rican background, 3.9 percent with a Salvadoran background, 3.9 percent with a Cuban background, 3.5 percent with a Dominican background, and 2.5 percent with a Guatemalan background. [2]
  • Thirty-three percent of U.S. immigrants are Latinx/Hispanic and 79 percent of Latinx/Hispanic people living in the U.S. are citizens.[2]
  • Overall, 16 percent of Latinx/Hispanic people have a bachelor’s degree or higher. [2]
  • Nineteen percent of Latinx/Hispanic people in the U.S. live in poverty. [2]
  • Latinx/Hispanic people are highly concentrated in a few states in the U.S. There are one million or more Latinx/Hispanic people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas. [3]

Attitudes

  • Religion can be a protective factor for mental health in Latinx/Hispanic communities (faith, prayer) but can also contribute to the stigma against mental illness and treatment (demons, lack of faith, sinful behavior), so targeting religious institutions to help encourage good mental health and treatment-seeking is important. [4]
  • There is a perception in Latinx/Hispanic communities, especially among older people, that discussing problems with mental health can create embarrassment and shame for the family, resulting in fewer people seeking treatment. [5]

Prevalence

  • Research shows that in the Latinx/Hispanic population, older adults and youth are more susceptible to mental distress relating to immigration and acculturation. [6]
  • While rates of mental health disorders among Latinx Americans are lower than those for non-Latinx whites and are higher among U.S.-born Latinx/Hispanic people than those who are foreign-born [6].
  • Despite this, according to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, overall mental health issues are on the rise for Latinx/Hispanic people between the ages of 12-49. [7]
  • Serious mental illness (SMI) rose from 4 percent to 6.4 percent in Latinx/Hispanic people ages 18-25, and from 2.2 percent to 3.9 percent in the 26-49 age range between 2008 and 2018.
  • Major depressive episodes increased from 12.6 percent-15.1 percent in Latinx/Hispanic youth ages 12-17, 8 percent to 12 percent in young adults 18-25, and 4.5 percent to 6 percent in the 26-49 age range between 2015 and 2018.
  • Suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts are also rising among Latinx/Hispanic young adults. While still lower than the overall U.S. population aged 18-25, 8.6 percent (650,000) of Latinx/Hispanic 18-25 year-olds had serious thoughts of suicide in 2018, compared to 7 percent (402,000) in 2008. Three percent (224,000) made a plan in 2018, compared to 2 percent (116,000) in 2008, and 2 percent (151,000) made an attempt in 2018, compared to 1.6 percent (90,000) in 2008.
  • Binge drinking, smoking (cigarettes and marijuana), illicit drug use, and prescription pain reliever misuse are more frequent among Latinx/Hispanic adults with mental illnesses.

Treatment Issues

The American Psychiatric Association digested several studies in a 2017 fact sheet. [6] Among its highlights, it found that:

  • Latinx/Hispanic people are more likely to seek help for a mental health disorder from a primary care provider (10 percent) than a mental health specialist (5 percent).
  • Poor communication with health care providers is often an issue. There is a shortage of bilingual or Spanish speaking mental health professionals.
  • Bilingual patients are evaluated differently when evaluated in English versus Spanish, and Latinx/Hispanic people are more frequently undertreated than whites.
  • Latinx/Hispanic adolescents use anti-depressants at half the rate of their white counterparts.
  • Latinx/Hispanic children use stimulants for ADD and ADHD at half the rate of white children.
  • Mental health problems can be hard to identify, because Latinx/Hispanic people will often focus on physical symptoms and not psychiatric symptoms during doctor visits.

Access/Insurance

  • Eighteen percent of Latinx/Hispanic people in the U.S. do not have health insurance, with those of Honduran and Guatemalan origin having the highest rates of being uninsured (35 percent and 33 percent respectively). [2]
  • In 2018, 56.8 percent of Latinx/Hispanic young adults 18-25 and 39.6 percent of adults 26-49 with serious mental illness did NOT receive treatment. [7]
  • Nearly 90 percent of Latinx/Hispanic people over the age of 12 with a substance use disorder did NOT receive treatment. [7]
  • In addition, in April 2014, MHA launched a suite of online mental health screening tools on its website (www.MHAscreening.org). In analyzing a sample of over 50,000 screens, MHA found that significant percentages of Latinx/Hispanic respondents indicated that they would either self-monitor their mental health or seek guidance from a peer.

Screening Tools

Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

MHA tiene dos pruebas en Español:

Spanish Language Materials

Mental Health Resources for Latinx/Hispanic Communities

  • Therapy for Latinx: national mental health resource for the Latinx community; provides resources for Latinx community to heal, thrive, and become advocates for their own mental health.
  • Latinx Therapy: breaking the stigma of mental health related to the Latinx community; learn self-help techniques, how to support self & others.
  • The Focus on You: self-care, mental health, and inspirational blog run by a Latina therapist.

Partnerships and Resources

Sources

[1] US Census Bureau. (2015). Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014-2060. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf

[2] Pew Research Center tabulations of the 2017 American Community Survey (1% IPUMS). https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/16/key-facts-about-u-s-hispanics/

[3] US Census Bureau. (2019). Hispanic Heritage Month 2019. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2019/hispanic-heritage-month.html  

[4] Caplan S. (2019). Intersection of Cultural and Religious Beliefs About Mental Health: Latinos in the Faith-Based Setting. Hispanic health care international: the official journal of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, 17(1), 4–10. https://doi.org/10.1177/1540415319828265

[5] Jimenez, D. E., Bartels, S. J., Cardenas, V., & Alegría, M. (2013). Stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness among racial/ethnic older adults in primary care. International journal of geriatric psychiatry, 28(10), 1061–1068. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.3928. Accessed from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672370/.

[6] American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Mental Health Disparities: Hispanics and Latinos. https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Cultural-Competency/Mental-Health-Disparities/Mental-Health-Facts-for-Hispanic-Latino.pdf

[7] SAMHSA. 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): Hispanics, Latino, or Spanish Origin or Descent. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt23249/4_Hispanic_2020_01_14_508.pdf