Mental health conditions exist within all populations. However, certain factors may increase their prevalence in Hispanic communities. Some elements of Hispanic culture may prevent or exacerbate symptoms of depression. Additionally, barriers may exist that prevent people from accessing adequate mental health services and support.
Familismo is a large component of Hispanic culture that emphasizes the importance of family relationships. Research on this concept is inconclusiveTrusted Source, as some sources note that it results in more depressive symptoms, while others suggest it acts as a protective buffer against depression.
A 2019 study suggests a possible explanation depending on the strength of the familial connections. For example, those who hold stronger beliefs toward support have better mental health outcomes. However, those that experience conflict exhibit more symptoms of depression. Having numerous obligations and mounting pressure within the family unit may contribute to depressive symptoms.
There is a perception in some Hispanic communities that it is inappropriate, embarrassing, or shameful to discuss mental health problems. Potential stigmatization may cause people to try and conceal symptoms of depression due to a fear of ostracism. Some people may also worry about potential consequences of depression, which they fear may make them unable to support their family and undesirable.
As a result, many people may be less likely to discuss any difficulties. Additionally, as they may have little information on support, they may not actively seek treatment.
Cultural differences may lead to misunderstandings and misdiagnoses regarding mental health. It may also cause people to experience culture-bound syndromes, which refers to mental health conditions unique to specific cultural populations. For example, Hispanic people may use phrases such as “ataque de nervios” to describe symptoms of intense emotion or “mal de ojo” which refers to a hostile gaze that may cause people to experience symptoms of depression.
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