Study: Availability of Spanish-language mental health services is shrinking
The availability of Spanish-language mental health services is shrinking even as the U.S. Latino population continues to grow, according to a recent study.
Why it matters: Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the U.S., and the number of Latinos who speak Spanish at home has grown from 24.6 million in 2000 to 39.1 million in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center.
By the numbers: Between 2014 and 2019, the proportion of facilities offering mental health treatment in Spanish declined by nearly 18%, according to a study published last week in the journal Psychiatric Services.
- That was a loss of 1,163 Spanish-speaking mental health facilities.
- Overall, 44 states saw a decline in the availability of services in Spanish, despite growth in Hispanic populations across all states.
- The national Hispanic population increased by 4.5%, or 5.2 million people, during the same period.
- The study examined data from the National Mental Health Services Survey conducted in 2014 and 2019.
The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports over 40% of Latino adults reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic, compared to 25% of white non-Hispanics.
- But only about 33% of Hispanics with a mental health disorder generally get treatment, compared to 45% of non-Hispanics, according to a 2018 Department of Health and Human Services report.
- And just 7% of licensed psychologists in the U.S. identify as Latino, according to the American Psychological Association, while even fewer, 5.5% of therapists, can provide services in Spanish.
What they're saying: "Disparities in behavioral health risk factors in the past decade have also grown and closely parallel the overall growth in the Hispanic population," the authors wrote.
The intrigue: Oklahoma, North Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky, and Maine experienced some of the largest percentage decreases in Spanish-language mental health services.
- Meanwhile, Delaware, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, and New Mexico saw tiny increases.
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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