Four Reasons Latinx’s Don’t Seek Addiction, Relationship, and Trauma Therapy

Four Reasons Latinx’s Don’t Seek Addiction, Relationship, and Trauma Therapy

Hispanic Heritage month identifies and celebrates a vibrant culture that includes music, food, family, and historical traditions. We celebrate “us” so that we can acknowledge what our culture has accomplished and discover what is possible for new generations. However, we tend to overlook education around mental health services and access to those services. Whether it’s your r elationships , self-esteem, coping with anxiety or depression, or something more severe like trauma , it’s easy to just try to carry on without taking care of yourself.

It’s not as though there are no needs for therapy in our community. A 2021 national survey found that 22% of Latin-Americans identify as having a mental illness. The most prevalent Mental Health (MH) issues among Latinxs were depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance disorders. Latinxs usually do not seek treatment for several reasons. Here I’ll discuss those reasons so that you can consider whether you should find a therapist to help you with the situations going on in your life.

Four reasons that obstruct or prohibit Latinxs in seeking mental health treatment are:

1. Don’t recognize signs/symptoms

Just like anyone that is not familiar with or trained to recognize symptoms of depression, they may mistake a change in sleeping or eating patterns, cognitive changes, or the loss of interest/pleasure in all activities as nothing more than an individual adjusting how he/she interacts with their environment. A mental health professional can administer a screening, PHQ-9 to help determine the likelihood needing help. A trained therapist can also help you better identify how you can assess for these symptoms and identify where these symptoms come from.

2. Don’t know where to find help

Most of us were raised in an environment where MH treatment was stigmatized. We never really thought about seeking treatment. Now that we are becoming aware of mental health importance, we still don’t know what to look for.

Common questions include:

  • Do we need a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a licensed counselor, a psychotherapist?
  • Why can’t I use my primary care doctor as my mental health provider?
  • What’s the difference between them?
  • Do any speak my language, do they understand my culture?

There are a lot of directories out there where you can search for therapists. Many of them include searching for Spanish speaking therapists. Don’t hesitate to ask if your therapist can speak in your preferred language. It’s important to be able to express yourself in therapy. This includes expressing your emotions and thoughts.

3. Traditional home remedies

Latinxs tend to be very family oriented where all problems are addressed and solved within the family. This route is usually chosen to avoid bringing shame to the family by being labeled as mentally weak or unstable. Sometimes we seek out religion, curanderos, tarot card readers, and other folk healers to help. We perceive them to hold special abilities to guide or heal. Second and third generation Latinxs are more likely to seek help vs. first generation Latinxs.

It’s true that your family can be a resource for you. You may have other leaders in your life as well. Therapy is much more personal and private. It is a place where you go and explore your life and relationships with someone in a private setting. You really need to ensure that it’s a place where you can feel safe and build a relationship with your therapist that feels like one where you can open up.

4. Taboos and Stigmas

Men are less likely than women to seek MH treatment because of the traditional gender machisimo roles. Traditionally, women have been expected to be loving, nurturing homemakers where their primary duty is to her children and husband. Men are supposed to be strong, providers and defenders of their children and wife. This can make it difficult for Latinx men but also their partners who may identify the potential benefit of therapy. It’s a brave decision to find a therapist who can help you heal and grow.

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Though we come from a community that teaches us “la ropa sucia se lava en casa”, not everything can be solved at home by family members. Needing mental health treatment isn’t inappropriate nor should it be shameful. If you have questions or feel as though you may need help please contact me for a free 15 -minute consult.

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