Last month a group of senators announced the establishment of the Senate Mental Health Caucus. The caucus was co-founded by Senator. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Tina Smith, D-Minn and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. The formation of the Senate Mental Health Caucus appears to be a step toward addressing the mental health crisis in the United States. The caucus is expected to play a role in raising awareness about mental health issues, and in improving access to mental health care for all Americans, including Latinos.
Therapists say that giving speakers of other languages mental health vocabulary in their own language is a first step toward better mental health. This month, Los Angeles Mission College launched a series of five weekly mental health workshops, open to the public, in Spanish. It’s the first time the college has provided workshops like this in a language that’s commonly used by the people who live around the campus in the north San Fernando Valley. “[Spanish speakers] have a stigma about mental health … it’s important for our community to hold these events because they’re in their language. We need for them to understand this topic in their language, in terms they can grasp,” said Magaly Rojas-González, the basic needs coordinator at L.A. Mission College and the event organizer.
The cultural “machismo” stereotype is upheld in many Latino households, forming a stigma around therapy and seeking help, which is often associated with weakness. When this practice is passed from one generation to the next, it becomes a difficult cycle to break. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, annually, 33% of Latinos suffering from a mental illness seek treatment, compared to the U.S. average of 43%. Gaithri Fernando is a psychology professor at California State University, Los Angeles, who recognizes how difficult having these conversations can be. “I hear many parents say, ‘If only [my kids] knew what I went through,’ and they don’t want to disclose those personal stories because of the trauma and they don’t want to burden their children,” he said.
In 2021, there were 1,763 hate crimes reported in California; in 2022, there were 2,120, making this a 20% surge in hate crimes reported in the Golden State. One of the state’s latest efforts to combat hate comes in the form of CA vs Hate, a new multilingual statewide hotline and online portal that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts.
Josof Sanchez has worked with youth for decades, serving as a probation commissioner for L.A. County and more recently mentoring youth through a film program at Santa Monica College. His latest project uses film to empower Latino youth to reach other young people and become mental health advocates.
18.4% of Latinos struggled with mental health in 2020, but only 35% received treatment compared to the nearly half of white persons who received treatment. Culturally, seeking mental health services still carries a stigma within the Latinx community. Fears of reporting immigration status, being labeled as “loco,” and speaking about personal issues with a stranger contribute to this stigma.
While Mental Health Awareness Month was observed last month in May, the issue is often front-and-center for many Latinos and family members who support them in their mental health journey to recovery.
Charlene Dimas-Peinado, is the President and CEO of Wellnest, a $32 million nationally recognized trauma informed behavioral health and housing organization in Los Angeles. She is the first Latina President & CEO of Wellnest since its founding in 1924.
The criminal justice system in the United States is in dire need of reform – for many reasons – but mental health remains among the top. Understanding the relationship between mental health and the criminal justice system is key to driving equitable policy practices that can improve health outcomes and reduce inequities faced by so many. Prisons and jails in the United States incarcerate a disproportionate number of people, including Latinos and Black people, with a current or past mental health problem. Many facilities are not equipped to treat these conditions.
At a young age, Lilly Travieso became fascinated with the world of sports, specifically softball. As she began playing the sport throughout her early years in grade school, she soon realized she wanted to continue pursuing softball at higher and more competitive levels. She was eager to play the sport in college.
This February, nine Peace & Healing Centers are expected to open and begin offering services to working-class residents living across the various communities in Los Angeles. The centers, launched by the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights), are part of the city’s first participatory budgeting pilot program called Los Angeles Reforms for Equity and Public Acknowledgement of Institutional Racism (LA REPAIR).
Dr. Susana Marquez is a specialized maternal mental health clinician. She educates mothers on what maternal mental health is and helps their family’s understand what these mothers are experiencing during their pregnancy. She educates on the importance of the mother’s mental and emotional well-being by connecting them with the proper resources in the community. Dr. Marquez is also a health advocate, speaker, and educator in the Latino community, with services in both English and Spanish.
While Mental Health Awareness Day was observed earlier this month on October 10, the issue is often front-and-center for many Latinos and family members who support them. Sandoval, president of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association (NLBHA), spoke with CALÓ NEWS on the importance of educating and spreading awareness about mental health to the Latino community.