First observed in 1968, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 through October 15 each year. During this time, we honor the history, culture, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
The timeframe is significant because it aligns with independence celebrations for many Latin American countries. Several Latin American countries and Spanish-speaking communities also observe Día de la Raza on October 12 to celebrate cultures destroyed due to European colonization.
Disparities/Barriers to Mental Health Care within the Hispanic community
Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender, or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. Our experiences and how we understand and cope with these conditions impact our access and road to recovery. As with any community, the mental health needs, and experiences of Hispanic people vary.
The Hispanic community is built from a heritage that teaches the values of hard work, sacrifice and always putting family first. Sometimes it can feel selfish to take time out for mental health. It may be hard to find the right words to describe what’s going on inside, or there might be fear that family won’t understand.
Hispanic communities face disparities in both access to and quality of treatment. This inequality puts the community at higher risk for more severe and persistent forms of mental health conditions, because without treatment, mental health conditions often worsen.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 35.1% of Hispanic adults with mental illness receive treatment each year compared to the U.S. average of 46.2%. This is due to many unique barriers to care such as language, poverty, health insurance coverage, culture, legal status, acculturation, and level of provider cultural competence.
As with any community, reducing stigma is also a primary factor. For this reason, breaking the silence around mental health and challenging shame around reaching out for help can make all the difference.
- Top 5 Reasons Hispanic/Latinos Don’t Seek Mental Health Care
- Latino Students on why it’s hard to talk about mental health
In recent years, you may have noticed that the term ‘Hispanic’ has often been replaced with ‘Latinx’ or ‘Latine.’ These terms aim to be more inclusive of geographical origins, and are also inclusive of all genders (as opposed to the masculine ‘Latino’). There is a lot to consider when determining which term to use, and in which contexts. For the purposes of this blog, the term ‘Hispanic’ was used to align language within the observance of Hispanic Heritage Month.