- Less likely to report challenges
- Latinx individuals in the United States are less likely to report experiencing mental health challenges than the general population and are also less likely to seek or receive treatment for mental health conditions.
- Experience barriers to help-seeking
- Members of the Latinx community sometimes experience specific barriers to help-seeking, including cultural norms that discourage talking about emotional health struggles outside of the family and systemic obstacles to care like financial insecurity, lack of insurance, and limited access to bilingual or culturally competent mental health professionals.
- Open conversation within the narrative
- Storytelling can combat these barriers by showing how talking openly about emotional health is a sign of strength and spotlighting accessible mental health care options.
This section was written in partnership with Latinx Therapy.
Portray a Range of Mental Health Experiences
- Tell stories about mental health challenges among Latinx and Hispanic individuals, beyond emotional struggles related to immigration and discrimination. While spotlighting emotional struggles related to immigration, discrimination, and poverty are important, it’s impactful to also highlight Latinx/Hispanic characters and cast members experiencing and managing a full range of mental health challenges and moments of resilience.
- Work with an expert advisor to ensure your story represents diversity within the Latinx community, particularly when representing the intersection of Latinx identity and other identities. For example, Latinx people who identify as LGBTQ+ and members of the AfroLatinx community deal with unique risk factors and mental health experiences.
Show Conversations About Mental Health and Help-Seeking
- Demonstrate how talking openly about mental health challenges and help-seeking are signs of strength.
- Cultural values of familismo and machismo can perpetuate the idea that problems should be kept and solved within the family, and can create the belief that expressing feelings is a sign of weakness, particularly among men. Storylines that incorporate and address these values can help change perceptions about mental health issues and encourage help-seeking among viewers.
Depict Effective, Realistic Help-Seeking and Treatment
- Depict Spanish-speaking and culturally competent help-seeking experiences to counteract beliefs that the American mental health system won’t understand or support Latinx patients. While it’s important to acknowledge the American mental healthcare system has its flaws and can be discriminatory toward non-Western cultures, it’s also important to emphasize positive experiences. For example, include storylines that highlight insurance and access options that some might not be aware of.
- Show how general practitioners can be a pathway to professional mental health support. Latinx/Hispanic individuals who face mental health challenges are more likely to talk to their general practitioner than seek out a mental health professional. Storylines that show general practitioners referring Latinx patients to mental health professionals may also increase the likelihood that viewers will be open to seeking dedicated mental health care.
Represent the Causes of Mental Health Challenges Accurately
- Tell stories that show a range of factors — like genetics and self-care — that impact emotional well-being.
- Like other marginalized communities, Latinx and Hispanic audiences may primarily relate mental health struggles to specific situations or stressors caused by systemic oppression, like poverty or discrimination. Showing the range of factors that impact mental health can make it more likely that viewers will better understand how to address these factors directly.
Latinx (also referred to as Latino) points to people from the following areas: Latin America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, and has to do with identity, rather than race. Hispanic refers to native Spanish-speaking countries, including Latin America and Spain.
Latinx individuals make up close to 20% of the U.S. population and are the country’s second-largest racial or ethnic group, behind white non-Hispanics. Members of the Latinx community are less likely to report experiencing mental health challenges than the general population; however, they can be at increased risk because they are less likely to seek or receive treatment for mental health conditions — and when they do, they are more likely to seek help from a general practitioner than from a mental health professional.
It is more common for Latinx individuals who do choose to seek help and support to talk to their families, rather than talking to mental health professionals, mainly due to collectivist cultural values like confianza (strong trust and mutual reciprocity) and familismo (dedication, commitment, and loyalty to family). In particular, older Latinx generations tend to have a particularly strong connection to these values and traditions.
Additional barriers that prevent Latinx communities from accessing mental health care include:
- Cultural norms that discourage expressing emotional struggles and stigma around mental health conditions and help-seeking. This includes machismo (masculine pride), a cultural value that can contribute to the belief that feelings are a sign of weakness.
- Lack of insurance or financial resources.
- Shortage of bilingual or Spanish-speaking mental health professionals and not enough accessible, culturally competent care options.
- Difficulty recognizing mental health problems. Latinx individuals will often express physical symptoms instead of talking about difficult thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Immigration status — many undocumented Latinx individuals may fear deportation if they seek help.
The most common mental health conditions among Latinx individuals are major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder. Members of the Latinx community are more likely to experience severe symptoms of depression than other minority groups, which can increase the risk of depression.
Facts and Stats