This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click <a href=”https://dschool.stanfor
I became interested in this topic because I saw a lack of acknowledgment of mental illnesses within my own community, which is predominantly Hispanic. I feel that not only is there a lack of awareness surrounding mental illnesses, but also that even if people are aware of an existing mental illness within themselves or others, they chose to ignore it. The topic of mental illnesses with Hispanic families, even mine, are considered ‘taboo’. Because of this many Hispanics with mental illnesses choose not to seek treatment. This issue lacks awareness within my community, and I am eager to raise awareness about it and reduce the stigma of mental illnesses so that the Hispanics in my community feel safe and comfortable seeking the help they may need instead of suffering in silence.
Everyday, there is a Hispanic suffering of a mental illness who is not receiving the help they need, or do not have access to quality treatment. This is deeply rooted in the traditional beliefs of Hispanic cultures. Often times if someone is mentally ill, they are viewed as ‘crazy’, outcasts, outsiders. Their family will disparage themselves with what they did wrong or get angry at the fact that the person is mentally ill and will not accept them. Also, the men of Hispanic families suffer from ‘machismo’, in which they strongly believe that they bear the burden of their families economic wellbeing. Therefore, they will not seek help for fear of being seen as weak and losing their place as head of their family.Traditional gender roles also play into this belief.
Another major problem is that Hispanics are often unsure where to find help, and when they do, they may experience misdiagnosis, language barriers, privacy and/or health insurance concerns.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says about the Latino community “As a community, Latinos are less likely to seek mental health treatment. A 2001 Surgeon General’s report found that only 20% of Latinos with symptoms of a psychological disorder talk to a doctor about their concerns. Only 10% contact a mental health specialist. Yet, without treatment, certain mental health conditions can worsen and become disabling.”
I believe there is no easy way to solve this issue, as it will be difficult to reverse the traditional norms about mental illness that have been in place for years. However, one way to begin to tackle the issue is to start with Hispanic youth. To do this, we would have to start in predominantly Hispanic towns, where the best solution would be to raise awareness among the youth about mental illnesses. They should also be provided with an outlet, like a counselor, who they can go to if they feel the need or feel like talking to, whether it be about themselves or someone in their family that they are worried about. It is important to begin with Hispanic youth because not only are they the next generation, but also because they will be able to take what they learn home with them, and hopefully will be able to raise awareness within their families as well.
Next, I plan on giving a presentation to my school about raising awareness about this issue, but also about reducing the stigma of mental health overall, not just in the Hispanic community, but in communities of various backgrounds. My school is very diverse, so I am hoping this presentation will have an impact on students and their families. However, you could help me by completing this survey on how stigma of mental illnesses affects your own life as it will help me collect research beyond just stigma in the Hispanic community, but in people of varying backgrounds.
Thank you so much for helping me out with my project!
“NAMI.” Latinos | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/Latino-Mental-Health.