Facts and Statistics

Common mental health disorders among Latinos are generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcoholism. While Latino communities display a similar susceptibility to mental illness as that of the general population, they experience health disparities that affect the way they receive mental health care, such as the access and quality of treatment. Only 20% of Latinos who experience symptoms of a psychological disorder talk to a doctor about their symptoms, and only 10% contact a mental health professional. 

Barriers To Mental Health Care

A large barrier to treatment is that in the Hispanic community, as with other ethnic minority groups, talking about emotions is not a common part of the culture, so treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy alone are not effective. There is a lack of understanding and knowledge regarding mental health, which increases the stigma associated with mental illness. Language is also a barrier as many medical professionals do not speak Spanish, and those that do may not understand the cultural issues that Latinos face. Other barriers include lack of health insurance, legal status, and misdiagnosis.1

Although evidence based treatments for depression and anxiety disorders such as CBT show effectiveness in Latino populations , Latinos underutilize these treatments.2 In some cases Latinos may cope with mental health issues by seeking advice from friends, family members or spiritual advisers, and may not seek help from mental health professionals. In other cases, there is a lack of understanding and knowledge regarding mental health, which increases the stigma associated with mental illness. Also, there can be uncertainty about how to access services for themselves or for their loved ones. Language is another a barrier as many providers do not speak Spanish and/or may not understand some of the cultural issues important to Latinos. Other barriers include lack of health insurance, legal status, misdiagnosis and medical mistrust--suspicion and low perceived supportiveness of health systems.3

Choosing a Provider 

It is important to find a provider who demonstrates cultural competence - which describes the ability of healthcare systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors and taking into account their social, cultural and linguistic needs. Research has shown lack of cultural competence in mental health care, which results in misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. When meeting with your provider, ask questions to get a sense of their level of cultural sensitivity, such as whether they have treated other Latinos, received training in cultural competence, and how they plan to take your beliefs and practices into account when suggesting treatment.Learn more about finding the right therapist

Find Support Online

Spanish language anonymous peer-to-peer online anxiety and depression support group is a friendly, safe and supportive place for individuals and their families to share information and experiences. As a member you can connect with other people experiencing anxiety and depression and related disorders, contribute to ongoing conversations or start your own conversation with a question or a post about your journey.

ADAA Resources

Trending Articles 

1. Latino Mental Health, NAMI

2. Treatment Engagement and Response to CBT among Latinos with Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care, NCBI

3.  Medical Mistrust, Perceived Discrimination, and Satisfaction with Health Care Among Young-Adult Rural Latinos, NCBI

4. Latino Mental Health, NAMI