(Produced by Eunice Alpasan and Joanna Hernandez)
Mental health professionals are continuing to bridge the gap on mental health care in Latino communities by offering more culturally competent care and normalizing conversations about mental health in communities.
Community members gathered in Pilsen last week for a mental health conversation guided by professionals. It was the first event hosted by the organization Salud, which was founded by school psychologist Ricardo Camacho.
“As a school psychologist,” Camacho said, “I’ve been so grateful to have these conversations with families, and we saw that we don’t have to wait until the worst of the worst. We can have the conversations now and today.”
More than half of Hispanic young adults ages 18 to 25 with serious mental illness may not receive treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Mental health and mental illness can often be stigmatized in Latino communities. Machismo culture and phrases like, ‘No estoy loco’ and ‘El qué dirán’ can cause some people not to seek the care they need.
Marilyn Rodriguez is a bilingual psychotherapist and community liaison at Latinx Talk Therapy, a clinic that provides bilingual and culturally aware mental health services for Latinx communities. She said part of destigmatizing mental health is educating the community.
“It’s destigmatizing mental health within our communities, being able to educate our communities on what are the reasons why people may go to therapy, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re crazy,” Rodriguez said. “It could simply mean that you want help understanding emotions, experiences, traumatic events that you’ve undergone.”