New research suggests that Latino children are more likely to suffer from depression and other mental health illnesses, but only 8 percent of Latinos say their child has received mental health services. Latino youth are depressed at a higher rate than any minority besides Native Americans, according to the Salud America! network at UT Health San Antonio.
Low response or desire to seek therapy can lead to greater chances that these conditions will go untreated over the course of a person’s lifetime. From language barriers to economic hardship, social factors can be a significant contributor to emotional stressors affecting children in the home and in school.
More than 17 percent of Latino students surveyed report being bullied. Thoughts of suicide are up to 8 times higher for Latino students, who say they feel less connected or lack communication with their families.
Fortunately, several solutions are emerging, according to the research:
- Latino children have less stress and more classroom success in programs that mix regular physical activity with mental health education.
- Community-based, cultural interventions have shown promise in improving Latino children’s access to mental health care.
- School-based bullying prevention programs can decrease bullying by up to 25 percent.
“Despite the high rate of mental health issues faced by Latino children, disparities persist in how they use and receive mental health services,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., lead author of the research review. She is the director of Salud America! and the Institute for Health Promotion Research in the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.