The impact of the coronavirus on Hispanic and Latinx populations, who have been disproportionately affected, has been discerning. Adding to the challenges, the community has been coping with a mental healthcare system that wasn’t built with them in mind. To adequately move forward in meeting the mental health needs of Hispanics-Latinxs, beyond conventional structures and practices, thought leaders say it is critical to focus on culture. Although some aspects of culture contribute to stigmatized views of mental health, it might also be the solution.
“We were comfortable because we just put our heads down, and we’d keep going, and I think that’s what we’d been taught to do. Sigue, sigue, sigue, trabajando, sigue. Go, go, go, go, go, and when we look up again, we find ourselves in chaos because we haven’t looked up in so long.”
Mental health counselor and owner of Advocacy and Education Consulting Pamela Fullerton describes the mentality culturally ingrained into many Hispanics-Latinos: no matter what, keep working. As a result, conversations about self-care, work-life balance, and mental health are much less common, which comes at a price.
Laura Martinez, Mental Health Equity and Inclusion Director of NAMI Illinois, says that culture influences people’s issues and how they cope with things like grief. She says that mental health providers continue to do a disservice to people of color by not implementing their customs into treatment. It may be a trial and error process to find one’s individualized and preferred method, but doing so creates trust and allows people to feel more comfortable opening up.
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