Immigrants’ mental health is affected by a combination of factors, such as discrimination, acculturation, and immigration, which are particularly harmful to the Latino community in general, and particularly of those who may be more vulnerable, such as young children and teenagers. Including the factors contributing to the racial and ethnic disparities, the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic perhaps worsening the situation.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Latino communities in the United States is the second highest. They’re also more likely to become hospitalized and die from the disease than other ethnic and racial groups.
In 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 60.5 million Hispanic or Latino people live in the United States. Of those, 22.3% are under the age of 19. About 15.1% of these young people experience symptoms of depression, according to Mental Health America.
A change is long overdue. There may be a greater need for culturally sensitive mental health treatments than ever before.
Young Latinos and mental health
We include Latino youth up to the age of 18 when we speak of Latino youth.
Research studies have revealed that Latino youth experience higher rates of depression and suicidality than other racial-ethnic groups in the U.S., says Gabriela Livas Stein, PhD, the associate director of clinical training at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “These increased symptoms start as early as late elementary school and have been documented into young adulthood.”
According to research from 2017, about 22% of Latino youth in the United States experience depressive symptoms. The numbers above apply both to U.S.-born Latinos and foreign-born Latinos, although the rates of mental health conditions tend to be higher in those born in the U.S.
LGBTIA+ Latino youth may also be faced with additional stressors. The Trevor Project estimates that young LGBTQ Latinos are 30% more likely to report a suicide attempt than non-LGTBQ Latino children and teens.
Depression in Latino communities
Often, mental health research is conducted from a white perspective. Culture, however, can influence how people describe and talk about mental health symptoms. Depression may be viewed as weakness in some Latin American cultures. For many Latinos, depression may be something you should deal with privately. Moreover, Latino youth in the United States are often the children of immigrants with unresolved trauma of their own.