Mental Health Stigma in the Hispanic Community

In regards to access to mental health resources, the stigma around mental health has been a dominant issue pressing our nation. An issue that is even more prevalent in the Hispanic community; a community which prides itself on their ability to fix issues themselves.

In fact, compared to their other counterparts in the United States, Hispanic adults with mental illness receive less treatment compared to the national average. Something that derives not only from the cultural stigma around the treatments, but also the lack of awareness around mental health.

“We [hispanics] get in our way. We still have a lot of ideas and ideals of what mental health should look like,” Ana Salazar, Associate Director of the University Counseling Center, said.

Another problem within the Hispanic community and its awareness of mental health is the avoidance of airing personal problems to other people. An act that would be seen with shame for not only the person seeking treatment, but also their family.  

One particular reason for this belief is that personal issues should be kept within the family home, with hopes of reducing any stigma brought onto the patient and their families. With various sayings being prominent in Hispanic households like “la ropa sucia se lava en casa”, roughly translating to “the dirty laundry is washed at home”. Along with “al mal tiempo, buena cara,” meaning “to put on a brave face”. Sayings like these cause a cultural belief within the Hispanic community to not seek treatment or therapy for their mental health.

Another factor that hinders the Hispanic population from reaching these resources are the financial barriers of mental health services. With 17% of the Hispanic population in the United States in poverty, the community faces issues finding ways to finance the therapies they are in need of. 

“Economic factors are a significant barrier to receiving mental health care. Lower costs and free community resources, although great, have long waiting lists,” Associate Director Salazar said.

Regardless of these circumstances, the Hispanic population is encouraged to still seek out treatment, along with counselors that not only look like themselves, but also are trained in their communities’ attitude and culture.

“Look up what therapy looks like,” Associate Director Salazar said. “Hispanic people need different therapy than what white people created.”

Students who wish to get counseling are encouraged to visit the University Counseling Center in the Driftwood Building. Various services are provided, such as a relaxation room, initial and crisis consultations, workshops, counseling groups, individual counseling, psychiatric services, case management, community referrals, outreach, and prevention services.