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Raising Awareness about Mental Health in the Hispanic Community

 #HispanicsForMentalHealth

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

Background

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.

 

The Challenge:

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.”

 

The Solution:

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.

What’s Next?

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.

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ycUuRrEsaZ9Lwhu37kh-Ei2fSazJNoC1Z7oklmDwrik/edit

 

Thank you so much for helping me out with my project!

Works Cited

“NAMI.” Latinos | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/Latino-Mental-Health.

 

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COMMENTS: 8
  1. April 27, 2018 by Jenny Carlson Pietraszek

    Juli — This is a worthy project! I look forward to seeing/hearing your presentation at Nobles, and I support your efforts both in your own communities and beyond. Thanks for raising awareness and thus providing needed help to many who are suffering!
    jcp

    • April 30, 2018 by Juli.Fernandez

      Thank you for your support!

  2. April 29, 2018 by Ben Snyder

    Juli – this is very thoughtful and important work. Congrats.

    • April 30, 2018 by Juli.Fernandez

      Thank you Mr.Snyder!

  3. April 29, 2018 by Michael Denning

    Juli,

    Thank you for sharing this with us. This is really important work. I would love to talk with you more about this. Congratulations!

    • April 30, 2018 by Juli.Fernandez

      We can talk anytime Mr. Denning. Thank you!

  4. April 29, 2018 by Ayako Anderson

    It is interesting to see how the mental illness is viewed similarly in Asian communities and Hispanic communities. I cannot agree with you more that these communities need to be more educated/informed about the mental illness (that they are normal!!) and the care providers (social workers, counselors) also need to be aware of the specific challenges that they face. I would love to see this presentation in Assembly!! Emotional wellbeing is an important topic for the school.

    • April 30, 2018 by Juli.Fernandez

      Thank you Ms.Anderson. I think its very important that we raise awareness about this topic to the Nobles community, as it may give someone the courage to seek help for themselves or a family member in need.

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