Written By: PEDRO MEJIA
Lead Clinical Case Manager
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Addressing and aiding our community’s stigma about mental health is complex. Nonetheless, the more awareness and knowledge around mental health, related disorders and symptoms, the better.
Specifically, the LatinX community struggles seeking and openly discussing mental health care at the cost of the stigma surrounding it. Not only is it a problem we encounter within the United States, but it’s a problem rooted very much within our home countries and culture. Why you may ask? Well, there are a multitude of reasons why—our cultural pressures around gender roles, machismo, and general education of the purpose of psychology and psychiatry or lack thereof. These are just a few things we commonly note that prevent the care we at times so heavily need, but wait! We haven’t even discussed the barriers around language and the financial costs that simply make mental health care out of reach.
Many LatinX individuals perceive mental health care as a sign of weakness, while others fear being labeled as “locos,” Spanish for crazy. Culturally, we are known for being more private within our individual and collective experiences, alongside wanting to keep everything “entre la familia,” or within the family. Moreover, when it comes to gender roles the LatinX community paints the picture that it’s acceptable for women to express their emotions and for they to be more vocal than how men express emotions and react to similar life experiences. In our culture men are indoctrinated with machismo— an exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, and strength are key aspects of masculinity. In turn, it’s important that we shift the narrative we all commonly grew up with. It’s time that we acknowledge we are not weak nor are we defined by mental health conditions and symptoms.
In changing our current narrative of mental health care, we need to recognize the ongoing changes that occur within the field we so passionately push away. Many mental health providers: psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists are the ones breaking our own barriers. Nowadays, LatinX individuals are directly impacting and representing our community by taking on such provider roles. In doing so, we are given the ability to seek mental health care with another individual that understands our culture, values and language— it changes everything. In turn, we slowly realize and understand our ability to seek help, heal, and the break stigmas, we ourselves have so rigidly lived by.
Moreover, it’s important that we realize that mental health disorders and related symptoms are rooted within genetic, biological and environmental factors. Our brains are the most complex organ in the human body and understanding that mental health disorders are a result of the chemicals in the brain not being balanced, it changes everything. It especially changes the view LatinX and other communities withhold on mental health care and it’s treatment. The perspective changes into mental health being a medical condition, just like diabetes or asthma.
Regardless of one’s culture, making the initial call or writing the initial email inquiring about mental health care can be weird or even embarrassing— but don’t be afraid. Specifically, in therapy we are given the freedom to talk about our emotions, our cultures impact on lived experiences, our dysfunctional and loving families, our strict parents, being latinX, being first generation, among many other life experiences we many carry. Therapy is a space for everyone to learn, grow, be listened to, and more importantly to heal. Therapy takes time and consistency, but it works.
If you’re a member of la comunidad or the community in general, we here at Heredia Therapy Group are here for you. Our administrative and clinical teams consist of personnel that are bilingual, understanding, and multiculturally sensitive. We are here to be apart of your journey of learning, growing and healing. Together we can take the first step in changing the narrative mental health care withholds within la comunidad and all other communities.