Latinx Mental Health: Supporting Healthy Latinx Communities
"It is very important for families and school leaders to openly approach issues like depression, anxiety, and stress." -Dr. Ramirez
How do you support Latinx mental health?
I am director of Salud America! A national network that inspires people to drive healthy changes for Latinx children. I also direct the headquarters of the network, the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. I have spent 30 years directing research on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease and cancer health disparities affecting the Latinx community, including cancer risk factors, A1:M10 trial recruitment, tobacco prevention, obesity prevention, healthy lifestyles promotion, and more. For Salud America!, I direct a team of passionate communicators who are creating research, stories, and tools to support policy and system changes for Latinx family health.
What are some of the biggest myths you’ve heard about Latinx mental health? How do you dispel these myths and fight stigma?
A myth I’ve heard often is that there is something wrong with a person’s parenting skills if they seek treatment for mental health issues that their child might have. This type of myth interferes with Latinx families' receipt of mental health care. Additionally, Latinx families face other barriers, such as discrimination, language, finances, and possibly fear of deportation.
By sharing resources, like our recent mental health research review, showing that more needs to be done to address the disparity in how mental health care is used and received and identifying the policies and programs that are scientifically proven to improve care, we can change policies and build healthy communities. It is very important for families and school leaders to openly approach issues like depression, anxiety, and stress. I recently published an article on programs that are proving to have a positive impact on mental health.
What are some tips you give to young Latinx with mental health concerns?
Seek help and resources. Talk to your parents, teachers, someone in your community that you trust to help guide you. Also, be aware of the impact of social media. For example, recent news has demonstrated the impact Instagram has on mental health and issues like self-esteem, body image, and depression, in both very positive and very negative ways.
What are some resources you suggest for the Latinx community?
They are many great resources out there. At Salud America! we recently released research on the mental health of Latino children, which includes shareable infographics on issues and solutions, as well as an animated video that summarizes the research and policy implications. We also frequently share or amplify important campaigns and messages from teams like Project UROK, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and many other well-respected organizations.