The intensity of life’s daily tasks under the weight of depression and other mental illnesses can be devastating. On a good day, it might manifest as internal chats over why showering and brushing your teeth is a good idea. On other days, the delayed act of opening your laptop and logging in to take care of unanswered emails and deadlines can fill you with a crushing sense of dread over what is surely the pending collapse of your world.
The heaviness, no matter how insignificant it might seem on the outside, is real, and the toll it takes on the person and those in their circle is overwhelming.
For communities of color, where stigma around mental illness intersects with several other inequities, silence creates cracks, crevices, and sometimes canyons of suffering.
In the Latinx community, for example, 16 percent reported struggling with mental illness, and only an estimated 33 percent received treatment. Are these numbers, however, which are self-reported, an accurate snapshot of how mental illness manifests itself in our community, or do they represent the tip of an iceberg that threatens our well-being on different fronts?
Many who work in the mental health arena feel these figures are low, partly because many of our families do not know what symptoms look like in everyday life and subsequently label the behaviors in terms of shortcomings or inadequacies. It’s not uncommon to hear folks describe people struggling with mental health as “not right,” “damaged,” or even worse, “weak.”
The idea of collective identity, where one’s actions are seen as a reflection of the entire family, plays into this as well, especially in the Latinx community. Speaking honestly about our “defects” is seen as a negative while suffering stoically for the good of the family is an honorable act. The song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Disney’s Encanto opened the door to speaking more openly about this phenomenon.
The overall shortage of affordable and accessible mental health services in the U.S. can make finding help feel like an impossible quest. Plus culturally appropriate mental health is difficult to obtain, and finding a mental health professional who speaks our language and understands the cultural nuances behind our beliefs and mores adds a layer that makes this feel insurmountable.
Read more at LatinoRebels.com.