Mental Health of Latinx/o/a Communities
On November 1, 2022, a panel of mental health experts from the Greater New Haven community discussed the mental health needs of Latinx/o/a communities. The conversation focused on common barriers to mental health care, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic, the importance of linguistic and cultural competency and the need for education to reduce stigma. Watch a recording of the conversation below.
Tara Davila, MSW, LCSW, Associate Director Youth Services, Yale Child Study Center; & Co-Chair, Progreso Latino Fund
Brian Padilla, Behavioral Health Director, Fair Haven Community Health Care
Leonora C. Rodriguez, Executive Director, Milford Senior Center
Frances Padilla, President, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut
What We Heard
- While mental health needs are not new, the pandemic created new challenges.
- 8% of Latinx/o/a children in the U.S. have engaged in behavioral health services as opposed to 14% of white children.
- Emotions are best expressed in one's native language. Spanish-speaking health providers and support staff are critical.
- Only 7% of licensed psychologists in the U.S. identify as Latino/a/x and only 5% can provide services in Spanish.
- Health institutions need better community outreach to build relationships and overcome fear and distrust.
- Insurance coverage restrictions and fee scales are a barrier to mental healthcare access.
- Stigma and negative perceptions of people who seek mental health therapy causes resistance to accessing needed treatment.
- Trauma related to migration and separation exists for many immigrants.
- Many in the Latino/a/x community lack the technology to access virtual mental health services.
- The earlier in life people seek out mental health services, the more likely the treatment will lead to successful outcomes.
- Despite the stressors, the Latinx/o/a community is resilient.
- A new generation of clinicians is training to be culturally humble in addition to being linguistically and culturally competent.
What We Can Do
- Challenge the traditional stigmas around mental health and encourage family and friends in need to seek treatment.
- Advocate for Spanish-speaking health services.
- Advocate for school-based behavioral/mental health services.
- Stay connected with older family and friends and prevent isolation.
- Advocate for higher reimbursement rates for mental health services, which would result in multiple benefits including the ability to provide equitable pay, encourage more Spanish-speaking providers to enter the field and expand services.
Resources and Further Reading
- Latinx/o/a therapists in Greater New Haven
- Yale Child Study Center
- "The Body Keeps the Score," Bessel van der Kolk
- 2023 Connecticut Open Enrollment Toolkit from CT Health Foundation
- Fair Haven Community Health Care Behavioral Health
- Milford Senior Center
- Study shows significant reduction in child trauma symptoms following brief mental health treatment
- The 8 Unique Stressors Behind Depression in Young U.S. Latinos
- Study: Availability of Spanish-language mental health services is shrinking
- Older Latino Mental Health: A Complicated Picture
Questions? Contact Carmen Burgos.
Learn more about the Progreso Latino Fund.