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The Stigma of Mental Illness Within the Latino Community: Why it Must be Abolished

The struggle of dealing with mental illness while being a part of the Latino community, is far from easy. To be candid, vulnerability within the Latino population is often condemned, considering that the majority of the population believe that it creates a “bad image” to the family. If one chooses to speak up about their mental health, it has continuously been dismissed since they’re only being a “loco” or “seeking for attention”. As a result, this has led to many in the Latino population to suffer in silence, as they’re fearful of the shame that will be bestowed on them if they wish to receive help.

As a Latina myself, I believe it is vital for the Latino community to abolish the stigma around mental health that we have created for several years. Yes, the pride within Latino communities is sacred to many, especially as many of us had to work ourselves from the ground up but pride should not be a priority if it means that it is neglecting others' sanity. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) it states “People in the Hispanic/Latinx community can be very private and may not want to publicly talk about challenges at home or in their lives…Some people do not seek treatment for mental illness out of fear of being labeled as “locos” (crazy) or bringing shame and unwanted attention to their families”. Hence, many of these Latino teens have acquired poor mental health, in which they’re forced with the burden of having to deal with it on their own. This is due to many of them believing that expressing their feelings to their caregivers isn’t an option as there is a higher chance of them being reprimanded for their vulnerability. Instead, we are faced with our parents viewing us as “locos” or are told that “our phones are causing this insanity”. Sometimes, it even goes as far as seeking remedies that will help cure our “deranged” selves but will never reach the point of seeking therapy for their children. My question is why? Why as a Latino, we have been made to believe that poor mental health should be forbidden? Why is it that we are constantly failing our youth when they reach out to their caregivers for help?

This is a problem that the Latino community has been endorsing for many generations. However, it is not too late to make the attempt to reverse this stigma and fix the damages that we have imposed on the youth. As a community, it is crucial for us to protect the youth, no matter how it may “appear to the outside world” or how it may be perceived as “weakness” or insanity. Latino caregivers must choose to be better, in terms of ending the mental health stigma that has been institutionalized within them. I can only speak for the rest of the Latino teens when I say that we must act now if we want to save the youth from the detrimental effects that mental illness contains. I can only hope that we put our pride aside and start healing the emptiness in our youth.


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