Latinos and Mental Illness

Since Oct. 6 to 12 is Mental Health week, CTLatinoNews.com researched websites and articles to provide our readers with important information on what the National Alliance of Mental Health says is a growing and serious health issue for Latinos. Among some of the startling facts we found, Latinos are identified as a high-risk group for depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Among female high school students in 1997, the rate of attempted suicide among Latino girls (14.9 percent) was one-and-a-half times that of African American (9 percent) and non-Hispanic white (10.3 percent) girls. On the treatment side, existing studies find that the language skills of mental health professionals reveal there are few Spanish speaking and Latino providers.

Latino Community Mental Health Facts

Rates of Mental Illness


  • The rates of mental illnesses in the Latino community are fairly similar to whites.
  • Latinos are identified as a high-risk group for depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
  • Deborah Duran established correlation between acculturation and depression (Duran,1995)
  • Women and Latinos are more likely to experience a major depressive episode.
  • Prevalence of depression is higher in Latino women (46 percent) than Latino men (19.6 percent).
  • The Common Wealth Fund Survey revealed that surveyed Latino and Asian-American girls exhibited more depressive symptoms than the African-American or white girls.
  • Among female high school students in 1997, the rate of attempted suicide among Latino girls (14.9 percent) was one-and-a-half times that of African-American (9 percent) and non-Hispanic white (10.3 percent) girls.
  • Close to one out of every three Latino female (30.3 percent) high-school students in 1997 had seriously considered committing suicide.
  • There are higher rates of mental illness among U.S.-born and long-term residents than among recent Latino immigrants.
  • Place of birth has a significant correlation with the subsequent risk for most psychiatric disorders.
  • A study found conclusively that long-term residence in the United States significantly increased rates in mental disorders, with particularly dramatic increases in the rates of substance abuse.

   Barriers to Treatment

  • Latinos are twice as likely to seek treatment for mental disorders in other settings, such as general health care or the clergy, than in mental health specialty settings. 
  • Among Latinos with mental disorders, fewer than 1 in 11 contact mental health care specialists, while fewer than 1 in 5 contact general health care providers.
  • The statistics become more alarming among Latino immigrants with mental disorders. Fewer than 1 in 20 Latino immigrants use services from mental health specialists, while less than 1 in 10-use services from general health care providers.
  • The existing studies about language skills of mental health professionals reveal that there are few Spanish speaking and Latino providers.

For more information and resources on Mental Illness visit:  www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Multicultural_Support1/Latinoissues.pdf
Photo: Saludify.com

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