It’s time to take mental health in the Latin community seriously
With the New Year right around the corner, you will hear people making resolutions to exercise, to lose weight, to eat healthier, to save money, to read more, to learn a hobby, and so on. Physical health is on the list every year, but you rarely hear resolutions about mental health. All of us can agree that exercising is one of the best means to attaining better health, because we want to feel good about ourselves as well. We must recognize that feeling good or bad is also a part of our mental health.
Outward physical needs are usually easier to see than internal needs, particularly feelings and emotions. These internal needs or struggles are fundamental elements of “mental health.” Just as we take care of our physical bodies, we need to take care of our mental health needs. Statistics show that at least 1 out of every 4 people have mental health conditions. Some of the biggest obstacles to getting help involve deprioritizing mental health, living in denial, and the stigmas of shame, fear, or lack of information.
People struggling with real issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental health needs often feel that they can overcome their struggles on their own. Some don’t want others to know for fear they will be labeled ‘crazy,’ weak, or needy. Many quietly struggle for years, not getting help that could have alleviated or lessened their struggle because they didn’t know where to get help or they were afraid to make that first step.
Please know that mental health issues can and do affect a wide range of people from every background. The immigrant community is facing much duress right now, as families and individuals are facing real threats. For instance, the Latin community is currently enduring a wave of intense, intrusive scrutiny. Experiences such as bigotry, surveillance, arrest and removal of loved ones, etc., all can have major negative effects on mental health. Members of the Latin community should know there is help available, and that there is no shame in seeking or accepting it. You don’t need to do this alone. Taking the first step towards help can give you a sense of stability and self-determination, which everybody deserves.
Medical help is a very important component to addressing mental health needs. There are trained counselors and doctors in this field that can find a treatment plan specially for you. In order to get the best treatment, it is crucial to tell your doctor everything so that you can get the help you need. Everything will be kept confidential, by law. It may help to incorporate the support of friends, spiritual beliefs, traditions, and customs. You can request reading material in Spanish and ask for a translator, by law.
We should all strive to have the best version of our self, and that includes taking care of both physical and mental health. If you think you are or know someone who is struggling with a mental health issue, do not wait any longer. Get help now. You could be saving a life.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is a resource that helps educate the public on mental health. To learn about mental health and to find help click on the link: https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/Latino-Mental-Health
1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org