Latina/o Mental Health Cultural Barrier

There is a significant gap between American models of psychotherapy and the needs and values of the Hispanic/Latino community.  While American therapy models, which are Eurocentric, emphasize individual traits and independence, Hispanic/Latino(a) cultures emphasize family unity, loyalty to family and friends, and one’s role in the community.  Hispanics/Latino(a)s are more likely to turn to family or friends when they have a problem or feel depressed or anxious.  They are also more likely to consult a member of the clergy or even a local healer.

Additionally to language and values, negatively perceived mental health care is another barrier that keeps Hispanics/Latinos from seeking mental health care.  The Latino Mental Health page of the National Alliance of Mental Health notes (NAMI) that the Hispanic/Latino community lacks information about mental health and has misconceptions about it.  Generally speaking, the Hispanic/Latino(a) community does not discuss mental health issues and many do not seek treatment because they do not understand the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety or where to seek help.

There is also a stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues due to this lack of information and communication. For fear of being labeled as “locos” (crazy), Hispanics/Latinos do not seek treatment.  Others see it as a source of shame and don’t want their community to find out, even though one in five people in the United States is affected by mental illness.  Utilizing mental health services also raises privacy concerns.  Many Hispanics/Latino(a)s do not know that mental health information is confidential and cannot be shared with anyone without the patient’s consent.