According to the 2016 US Census, 17.8 percent of the United States (US) population identifies as Hispanic or Latinx, totaling over 57 million people. Of those, 15.6 percent reported mental health concerns in the past year. However, a 2001 Surgeon General’s report found that only 20 percent of Latinxs with symptoms of a psychological disorder sought treatment. Although there are many articles in the mainstream media about the Latinx community’s stigma towards mental illness and seeking treatment for mental health issues, a 2009 study found that Latinxs exhibited more positive attitudes towards mental health treatment than whites. Why, then are these individuals not seeking treatment?
Although the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has decreased the number of Americans without health insurance by 20 million since 2010, the percentage of Latinxs without health insurance increased from 29 percent to 40 percent between 2010 and 2016. Moreover, even when Latinxs have financial access to mental health treatment, the treatment may not be quality care that is culturally inclusive and competent.
All clients deserve a therapist who is culturally competent and can provide culturally relevant treatment. With the increasing number of monolingual and bilingual Latinxs in the US, having a therapist who can deliver treatment in fluent Spanish can be more effective and comfortable for the client, creating better rapport and covering the nuances of Latinx mental health issues more accurately. Unfortunately, this treatment is not always easy to come by.
While Student Counseling Services cannot fill all the gaps in the Latinx mental health community, we seek to provide a safe, welcoming, and affirming environment for our Latinx students. We offer resources such as free individual, couples, and group counseling services and outreach programs and strive to be a culturally competent counseling center that can serve clients of all backgrounds and identities.
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