This was a tough one to write because as my return-to-work date gets closer, my anxiety is increasing.* There is always more behind a smile. As many of you know, May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth where the goal is to break the stigmas behind mental illness and create educational dialogue. Coming from a pretty traditional Mexican family and being a first-generation Mexican-American, the stigmas definitely exist for me and the conversations about mental health are practically zero. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I even realized mental health was a part of my overall health let alone that the health insurance that I was paying so much for included services for mental health.
Society as a whole has come a long way when it comes to mental health, but there is still a lot of ground to cover, especially in the Latino/POC communities. Speaking from my own experience, it was easier to attribute symptoms to a physical ailment than to consider anything related to the mind. Although there are some cultural barriers in the Latino community that would deter us from talking about mental health, there are a lot of systematic barriers as well: language barriers and socioeconomic barriers that ultimately lead to educational barriers.
Did you know that only 1 in 5 Latinos with symptoms of a psychological disorder approached a doctor? And only 1 in 10 Latinos approached a mental health professional? I am one of the 1 in 10 who approached a mental health professional and until this day I still get odd looks when I mention my therapist. I consider myself lucky.
It’s encouraging to see that every year there is more awareness about mental health. If you feel that this is an area you want to explore, talk to your insurance provider if you have one. If you don’t, check out Mental Health America at https://www.mhanational.org which is full of bilingual resources. If you love Instagram as much as I do, make sure to follow @therapyforlatinx and @latinxtherapy who are both doing great work for the Latino community and creating accessible resources. Let’s continue to break the stigma.
*As of the time this post was written, I am a furloughed hotelier with a tentative return-to-work date of June 1st, 2020.