May 13, 2021 - Health

Latino mental health crisis grows

Illustration of a person sitting on the ground surrounded by radiating lines. 

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Over 40% of Latino adults have reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic, in contrast to 25% of white non-Hispanics, the CDC reports.

Why it matters: The emotional distress is especially acute for Latinos who had COVID-19, some of them tell Noticias Telemundo.

Between the lines: Latinos tend to seek treatment reluctantly, struggling to admit help is needed.

  • When added to barriers to health care, like lack of insurance or a perception of discrimination from doctors, the ordeal can intensify suicidal thoughts.
  • The most prevalent mental health issues are anxiety, depression, PTSD and related substance abuse, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

By the numbers: A third of Hispanics with a mental health disorder get treatment, per the Department of Health and Human Services, compared to 45% of non-Hispanics in the U.S.

  • Only 7% of licensed psychologists in the U.S. identify as Latino, according to the American Psychological Association, while even fewer, 5.5% of therapists, are able to provide services in Spanish.

What they’re saying: “Within the community there are stereotypes of 'esa persona está loca,' that person is crazy — the stigma that if you are sad or anxious you are weak. Unless we create proper services to combat that and to approach communities of color, these will become lifelong problems for many,” physician Ilan Shapiro tells Telemundo’s Radar.

Driving the news: Farmworkers, many of whom are Latino, have been especially affected.

  • As essential workers during the pandemic, farmworkers kept stores stocked with produce.
  • An American Farm Bureau poll released in December showed that 66% of farmworkers said the pandemic has affected their mental health.
  • Justice for Migrant Women president Mónica Ramírez and actress-activist Eva Longoria, with her foundation, have created a program, "Healing Voices," to provide mental health services to 3 million farmworkers.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255 in English, 1-888-628-9454 en español) provides 24/7, free, confidential support.

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