A recent state report about mental health in the Latinx community showed that while Latinx youth are seeking mental healthcare at high rates, there is still a lack of services in rural areas like Malheur County, where 33% of the population is Latinx.
Malheur County has the second-highest ratio of Latinx to other residents by county in Oregon. Of counties with a high population of Latinxs, it has the third-highest ratio of residents to mental healthcare providers – 1,223 to 1. Experts say that this isn’t enough.
“Access to any mental health providers, especially culturally specific mental health providers, is particularly scarce” in rural counties, the report said.
“Access in and of itself is a challenge,” said Gustavo Morales, the executive director of EUVALCREE, a nonprofit based in Ontario that works with the Latinx community. “We have limited behavioral and mental health providers, and even with those providers, waitlists go between three to six months. Those disparities are even more exacerbated with communities that have challenges with linguistic and cultural access.”
Local educators say that they are working to intervene with youth through school-based mental health resources.
Factors such as language contribute to what Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe identified as “social determinants of health.” The term refers to social factors, like English proficiency, income level, and access to prevention education, that can affect health from mental health to teen pregnancy.
Read more at MalheurEnterprise.com.