Depression and/or mental disorders are unspoken words in the Latino community. Why are Latinos suffering from depression ashamed to seek help? Is the stigma in our culture so much greater than accepting the sad fact that depression and mental disorders have grown significantly in the last decade among Latinos?
Latina women have the highest rate of clinical depression according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. They conducted a study proving that “Latinas experience depression at roughly twice the rate of Latinos; and are more likely to experience depression than Caucasian or African American women.” What can be causing so many Latinas to be experiencing depression and not seek treatment for it?
It could be safe to assume that Latina immigrants coming into a new country are more likely to experience a culture shock and have to adapt to an unknown place. They come here without knowing the language and are forced to settle into unknown territories and this can cause depression. The tough part is them accepting and admitting they have depression and seeking treatment. The stigma that our culture doesn’t accept a mental disorder is a huge barrier for the people suffering from depression. They may not want to be referred to as the “loca” or hearing that it is all in their minds. These are common and unjust phrases used by Latinos and they do not realize the hurt they are causing their loved ones who suffer in silence. These examples alone are some reasons why Latinas are not seeking treatment for their depression.
Another big issue is health care coverage. About 15.5 million Latinos are uninsured, which means they cannot afford to seek help. The cost of medical coverage is an expense that most Latinos cannot afford and they will not seek any type of treatment because of that reason. Latinos also do not consider health insurance or doctor visits to be a priority. They put their medical necessities to the back burner and ignore the importance of the treatment they need. Depression can be an expensive expense due to the medication and therapy that physicians recommend. The healthcare system may not be welcoming to the Latino community, and may put a sour taste in their experience and cause them to stop seeking treatments. According to Pew Hispanic, “Among those Latinos who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents who report receiving poor medical treatment in the past five years, a plurality (46%) state that they believed their accent or the way they spoke English contributed to that poor care.” The language barrier is a huge obstacle in our community and is a fear that must be overcome.
Mental illness, whether it is depression or any other issue, is a serious and stigmatic problem within our Latino community that needs more attention. It should not be considered shameful to seek treatment or to speak about it. If you are suffering from depression or suspect someone you know is suffering from it, encourage them to seek treatment. There are also plenty of local community clinics that can help the uninsured seek help and treatment.
Martha Trujillo is a Staff Writer for Latino Giant. Born in 1979 in Laredo, Texas, Martha was born to a mother who was an immigrant from Mexico and a father who is a U.S. citizen. She was raised in a typical Mexican household and carries her roots with her every day. Martha holds an Associate’s Degree in Business and has worked in the medical field for about 17 years in the business office. Currently, she resides in Arizona and is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts to purse her dream of opening a restaurant.