Nov 17, 2022 - World

Mental health resources in Spanish are increasing

A crisis hotline worker in 2020. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Latinos and Spanish speakers are getting better access to key mental health services thanks to several recent initiatives.

Why it matters: Suicide rates increased in 2020 for Latinos and Black non-Hispanics, according to CDC data released yesterday.

  • A higher percentage of Latinos in the U.S. have reported symptoms of depression than their white non-Hispanic counterparts since the pandemic began, per the CDC.
  • But the availability of mental health services in Spanish dropped between 2014 and 2019, according to a study in the journal Psychiatric Services.

By the numbers: Hispanics in the U.S. make up 19% of the population, but only 6% of licensed psychologists in the U.S. identify as Latino, according to the American Psychological Association.

  • Only 5.5% of therapists are able to provide services in Spanish. But 13% of people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home, census data shows.

Details: Over 6,000 Spanish speakers have reached out for help since Crisis Text Line, a free 24/7 text message counseling hotline, launched a Spanish version of its services a year ago, the organization says. They also launched a WhatsApp version, which many Latinos prefer for messaging.

  • Hispanics and Spanish speakers now make up 19% of people who reach out to the mental health service, its chief health officer, Shairi Turner, tells Axios Latino.
  • The service recruits fully bilingual volunteers and mental health professionals because they did not want a translation service, Turner says.

Other mental health services have also broadened their scope in the past year. The U.S. federal government's Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched a new number, 988, this summer in both Spanish and English.

  • The Trevor Project, a leader in suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youth, is now operating in Mexico and looking to use that Spanish speaker experience for U.S. Latinos.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect Shairi Turner is the chief health officer, not chief medical officer.

If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat with someone at En Español.

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