October 3rd, 2011
The Top Mental Health Concerns For Latinos In The U.S.

An estimated one fifth of Americans suffer from a mental disorder. There are violent acts that are associated with mental health — rape, toxic substance dependence, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder, domestic violence and child abuse — for example.

However, experts believe that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than potential criminals.

The mental health of young people linked to domestic violence, abuse or neglect of adults and dependence on alcohol and drugs, among others. But it also adds pressure on school peers.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children 14 to 25 years and the fourth among 10 to 15 years. Suicide attempts are becoming more common, too. Mental health problems are conditions that include changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. When they are more severe, they are called mental illness. These include anxiety disorders, disorders of hyperactivity and attention deficit, depression and other mood disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia or others. When these diseases affect children under 18 years old, they are known as serious emotional disturbances (SEDs).

Four out of five adolescents with suicidal tendencies give warnings, so it’s important to pay attention to changes in behavior. Young Latinos in the United States may face an identity crisis that sometimes brings to mind the fatal outcome. Here are brief descriptions of some of the most common mental illnesses according to the Administration of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (SAMHSA):

  • Panic: You can diagnose this condition if you live in constant fear of having a panic attack or anxiety. People who experience four or more panic attacks over a period of four weeks suffering from the so-called panic disorder.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: It is characterized by the presence of harmful thoughts or obsessions that are repeated constantly and the sufferer repeats the same action over and over again to make the thoughts go away. Some examples of these obsessions include the fear of having an accident, fear of hurting others, and disturbing thoughts about religion or sex.
  • Obsessive – Compulsive Disorder: Affects about 3 million American adults. It is characterized by the presence of harmful thoughts that are repeated constantly.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: It is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person goes through a traumatic event that caused intense fear, helplessness or extreme fear. For example, witnessing a violent or tragic event, rape, war, natural disasters, physical and mental abuse, accidents or captivity, among others.
  • Social Phobia: It consists of a preoccupation with the possibility of being ashamed in front of others. Their fear may be so strong that it prevents them from doing daily tasks. They may have trouble talking with others at work or at school. Their fear may occasionally even from going to work or school.
  • Depression: Depression affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way that values and way of thinking in general. People with a depressive illness cannot just help themselves to improve. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years.
  • Bipolar Disorder: This disorder has two names currently in use: Bipolar disorder and manic-depressive illness. The first term is the most common. The disorder causes severe mood swings. It can be very destructive and cause damage to personal relationships, job loss, financial difficulties and in some cases to third parties.
  • Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder and affects a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions or relate to others. Most people with schizophrenia have symptoms of the disease throughout their lives, either chronically or episodically.
    • Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder that affects approximately 2.2 million adults in the U.S., equivalent to about 1.1% of the population over 18 years. About 18.9 million American adults experience a depressive illness that affects the body, mood and thoughts.

The Dark Side of Mental Health Among Latinos

How often do you use the expression “I’m crazy”? The reality is that mental health is not something to be taken lightly or ignored.

“22% of the Latino population has mental health problems and only 2% seek help for mental health needs,” according to the Mental Health Association of Latinos.

Many studies agree that the major mental health problems facing the Latino community are schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. “We know that in adolescence the process of depression, substance abuse and no drugs, begins which often are treated by self-medication due to forgetfulness, sadness or loneliness,” according to research.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that for Latinos living in the U.S. for long periods of time, the odds of developing mental disorders increases, accompanied by a dramatic increase in rates of alcohol, antidepressants and other chemicals. According to the Center, young Latinos in the United States face an identity crisis at times have led to fatal outcomes thinking.

“Suicide is a tragedy that exists in our community, especially among children and adolescents. At the social level, it is the third leading cause of death in young people between 15 and 23, and the fourth among 10 to 15,” according to studies conducted among Latino families in Southern California.

Suicide is ranked number 11 among the causes of death in the United States, which at times has come to exceed the number of homicides.

Worst of all, it addresses concerns about mental disorders remains a taboo among Latino families. Experts say that four out of five adolescents with suicidal tendencies give warnings. Important is that parents and guardians of young people pay attention to red flags that can be detected among their children. Here are some of them:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Lack of communication
  • Loss of interest in family activities, sports and school
  • They get very irritable
  • Are sure that life is worth nothing
  • Engage with people who have the same feelings

“Everything in life has a solution except death.” Understanding this principle helps to seek support, especially at times when life seems no longer make sense.

There are several support centers in the country.


[Photo By Mykl Roventine]

2 thoughts on “The Top Mental Health Concerns For Latinos In The U.S.

  1. Pingback: NewsTaco Weekly Roundup: October 3 – 9, 2011 | NewsTaco

  2. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that for
    Latinos living in the U.S. for long periods of time, the odds of
    developing mental disorders increases, accompanied by a dramatic
    increase in rates of alcohol, antidepressants and other chemicals”
    I think that it is counterproductive to include use of antidepressants as a problem akin to use of alcohol and other substances.  People on antidepressants are seeking treatment. These medicines are not perfect but they can be extremely helpful to people with depression and anxiety.
    There is a problem with access to mental health treatment which is particularly problematic for the Latino community because of the number of people without health insurance and the language barrier.

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