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Minority Mental Health Month: Hispanic/Latinx

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the experiences of minority groups or the disparities and oppression they face every day. I am a counselor and this is the result of my personal research on the subject in hopes to educate and help others with the information I find.

Mental Health and the Latinx/Hispanic Community


  • Spirituality and religion can be a protective factor, but it also comes with a stigma against mental illness in many Latinx/Hispanic communities. Due to these stigmas (demons, lack of faith, sin), many places of worship in these communities do not encourage mental-health treatment seeking which puts this population at a higher risk of going untreated.

  • Many in the Latinx community are familiar with the phrase el dicho "la ropa sucia se lava en casa” which essentially means “don’t air your dirty laundry in public”.

  • This phrase eludes to the stigma in Latinx/Hispanic communities among the elders that discussing mental health problems can bring shame and embarrassment to the family. This also leads to higher risk of going untreated.

Language Barriers

An obvious factor that contributes to the unequal care that the Spanish-speaking community receives (that many providers do not consider) is language barriers. In America, there are places that offer Spanish translations, but many mental health providers do not. This can lead to fewer choices for those who do seek out treatment and could discourage those clients to the point of forgoing treatment altogether.

Socioeconomic Status

Socioeconomic status is the social standing or class of an individual or group and it can be contributed to by education, income, occupation, and race.

Of the Latinx/Hispanic community in the US, 18% do not have health insurance. Even less have behavioral health/mental health coverage as it is more difficult to attain than health insurance. This is due to many factors that make up socioeconomic status.

Due to these facts, in 2018, 56.8% of young adults in the Latinx/Hispanic community with serious mental illness did NOT receive treatment. Remember, these statistics are only based on the mental illnesses that have been diagnosed, many go undiagnosed AND untreated.

Nearly 90% of the Latinx/Hispanic community (excluding children) who had substance use disorders did not receive treatment.

During the COVID epidemic, the Hispanic/Latinx community has the highest rates of enduring pay cuts and being laid off resulting in a decrease in income drastically over the past few months (Pew Research).

Provider Bias

For a full explanation of conscious and unconscious bias and discrimination vs prejudice, you can read the post Mental Health Disparities for Black People in America: Provider Bias.

For the Latinx/Hispanic community, and many other communities, a huge factor in provider bias is lack of cultural competence.

Cultural differences may lead to misdiagnoses in the Latinx/Hispanic community. As an example, many clients of Latinx/Hispanic heritage describe their symptoms in physical language such as nervousness, tiredness, fatigue, and weakness (just to name a few). Because these symptoms sound physical in nature, a provider with less cultural competence may assume it’s a different issue when in fact they could very well be symptoms directly related to a mental illness such as depression.

Resources for Latinx/Hispanic Clients



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