May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s a time for the nation to focus on mental well-being.
Amid the media coverage, narratives, and fundraisers, the topic of Latinx mental health is minimal and often omitted. However, it’s important to talk about the unique experiences and challenges that Latinx-identifying people face when it comes to mental health.
The Latinx community is incredibly diverse - we are not a monolithic group - with people from different countries, including the U.S., different generations, racial and cultural backgrounds. This means that experiences with mental health can vary greatly.
During Mental Health Awareness Month, we urge Latinx people to prioritize their mental health. For Latinx individuals, this might mean taking steps to overcome the unique challenges we face and advocating for change in our communities.
At the moment, we don't have a Latinx/Latine/Hispanic/Latino/Latina mental health movement. We do, however, have a collective mental health struggle(s) due to the following barriers:. language barriers, fear of stigma, lack of access to culturally competent care, and a lack of understanding of mental health within the community. These issues contribute to deepening current mental health struggles and block our ability to true internal healing and liberation.
Stigma: Mental health diagnoses and or struggles, including mental illnesses, are often viewed as a weakness or something to be ashamed of in the Latinx community. This can prevent individuals from seeking help when they need it.
Lack of access to resources: Many Latinx individuals don’t have access to mental health services, either because they can’t afford them, lack of insurance, culturally competent therapists and/or not understanding their own mental health journey.
Language barriers: Many mental health resources are only available in English, which can be a barrier for Spanish-speaking individuals as well as those who speak the indigenous languages of the Americas.
Discrimination: Latinx individuals face discrimination and racism, which contribute to stress and anxiety and augment trauma and impede healing.
Cultural expectations and familismo: Latinx culture places a strong emphasis on family, and there can be pressure to prioritize family over one’s own mental health. One factor that impacts the mental health of Latinx individuals is the concept of "familismo," or the prioritization of family over individual needs. While this value is an essential part of Latinx culture, it can also lead to feelings of guilt or shame when seeking mental health treatment. Additionally, the intergenerational trauma that many Latinx individuals experience can lead to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression.
Despite these challenges, it’s important to prioritize mental health. At Proyecto Sol, we have Rhombicos, where you can show up in a safe space and share anything you want - in a confidential, compassionate safe space. By speaking out about mental health issues and advocating for more resources and support, you can help break down the stigma and make it easier for Latinx individuals to get the help they need.
It is essential to prioritize mental health awareness and support for the Latinx community. By acknowledging the unique challenges faced by Latinx individuals, we can work towards breaking down the barriers to mental health treatment and improving the mental wellbeing of the community as a whole. This Mental Health Awareness Month, let us commit to advocating for the mental health needs of Latinx individuals and supporting the organizations that provide crucial care and resources to this community. Consider donating to Proyecto Sol so we can reach more, and together heal individually while impacting the collective healing.