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Highlighting Mental Health Needs During Latinx Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month

The 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 22% of Hispanic/Latinx Americans reported having a mental illness, just slightly less than non-Hispanic whites (23.9%). While the prevalence of mental health conditions is similar between the two groups, there are significant differences in treatment-seeking behaviors and access to services. Indeed, the study found that only 36% of Hispanic/Latinx individuals received mental health services, compared to 52% of non-Hispanic whites. 

Accessing treatment is a struggle in these communities due to cultural stigma, religious beliefs, legal status, lack of insurance, and language barriers. This article explores these obstacles and provides resources to improve mental health care in Hispanic/Latinx communities.

La Fuente Hollywood provides culturally sensitive substance abuse treatment for members of the LGBTQ and Hispanic/Latinx communities. Call us today at 888.903.9898.  

Barriers to Mental Health Treatment in the Latinx Community

There are several barriers to mental health treatment within the Hispanic/Latinx community. Stigma and a lack of understanding about mental illness are significant issues that are often intertwined with religious beliefs. These cultural factors are compounded by systemic challenges such as immigration status, lack of health insurance, and language barriers. 

Let’s explore each of these challenges in more detail.


Stigma is the biggest obstacle to accessing mental health care amongst Latinx people. Within these communities, there’s a strong sense of pride — a pride in heritage and roots, but also a pride that makes it hard to ask for help. 

The hesitance stems from a fear of appearing weak or dependent, a feeling that’s particularly common among Hispanic and Latinx men. More than women, they feel pressure to be strong providers and protectors for their families. As a result, reaching out for support, especially regarding mental health, is often deemed unacceptable.

Adding to this challenge is the stigma surrounding mental health within the community itself. Many suffer in silence because of it. Older individuals are particularly affected, fearing that discussing mental health problems might bring shame to their families.

Understanding these attitudes requires recognizing the environments in which many grew up — places where those with mental illnesses were shunned, and families refused to talk about mental health, let alone admit it could be an issue in their own family.


Religion is deeply ingrained in Hispanic and Latinx communities and has a complex influence on their beliefs about mental health. On the one hand, faith offers solace, strength, and community. On the other hand, religious beliefs perpetuate the stigma about mental illness. 

Instead of seeing mental health issues as something stemming from genetics, brain chemistry, or trauma, problems are attributed to spiritual deficits, a lack of prayer, or even demonic intervention. Consequently, the remedy often involves praying more or having more faith, rather than seeking professional help. 

Legal status

The fear of deportation is a major obstacle for undocumented immigrants seeking mental health treatment. Even though millions of children of undocumented immigrants are eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, many families may not realize their eligibility or may be hesitant to register due to the fear of separation and deportation.

Lack of health insurance coverage and poverty 

Many Latinx people work in low-paying jobs without health insurance. The statistics paint a bleak picture: 18% of Latinx/Hispanic people live without health insurance. These rates are even higher among those of Honduran and Guatemalan descent, at 35% and 33%, respectively.

But even those who have health insurance might not understand what mental health services are included with their plan. This often leads to mental health needs being overlooked.

Adding to these challenges, 17% of Hispanic/Latinx people in the U.S. live in poverty. This economic disparity exacerbates the risk of mental illness and makes it extremely difficult to afford treatment.

Language and cultural barriers 

Language barriers present significant challenges when communicating with mental health providers, especially regarding sensitive or personal issues. While there’s a growing number of bilingual (Spanish/English) mental health providers in the U.S., some Latinx people speak other languages or dialects like Quechua, Nahuatl, or Portuguese. 

Cultural differences also play a role in treatment access. For instance, Latinx/Hispanic individuals often focus on physical symptoms more than psychiatric symptoms during doctor visits, potentially leading to misdiagnosis.

Moreover, perceived or real prejudices can make Latinx individuals feel uncomfortable and misunderstood in mental health settings, discouraging them from seeking care in the future.

Mental Health and LGBTQ Latinx People

Up to this point, we’ve focused on the Latinx community as a whole. While these findings are important, it’s important to dive deeper into the mental health challenges faced by Latinx individuals who identify as LGBTQ.

Unsurprisingly, LGBTQ Latinx people experience even greater mental health challenges than their straight and cisgender counterparts. As an example, a 2021 study found that 30% of Latinx LGBTQ adults had been diagnosed with depression, compared to 16% of Latinx non-LGBTQ adults. 

The situation is particularly concerning when it comes to young Latinx LGBTQ people. A 2023 study published by The Trevor Project found that 70% of Latinx LGBTQ young people reported having symptoms of anxiety in the past two weeks, while 59% reported having symptoms of depression in the same period.

What’s even more alarming is that 44% of this group seriously considered suicide in the past year, with 16% making a suicide attempt. 

These findings emphasize the urgent need for additional interventions and support tailored to this community.

Latinx Mental Health Resources 

Looking at all of the barriers to mental health treatment within the Latinx community, it’s understandable to feel discouraged. A lot of work needs to be done, but thankfully, there are a growing number of resources to improve mental health access and outcomes in the community. 

Provider directories

  • Latinx Therapy: A national directory of Latinx therapists in private practice. The organization also publishes a podcast and provides mental health resources in Spanish and English. 
  • Therapy for Latinx: Another national database of Latinx therapists that provides bilingual news and resources. 
  • American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry: The ‘find a physician’ feature allows patients to search for a psychiatrist in their area. 

Educational materials and books  

  • Compartiendo Esperanza: Videos, facilitator guides, and additional resources created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to encourage community conversations about mental wellness. 
  • The Color of My Mind: Mental Health Narratives from People of Color by Dior Vargas
  • Speaking from the Body: Latinas on Health and Culture by Angie Chabram-Dernersesian
  • I Am Diosa: A Journey to Healing Deep, Loving Yourself, and Coming Back Home to Soul by Christine Gutierrez,
  • Break the Cycle: A Guide To Healing Intergenerational Trauma by Dr. Mariel Buqué
  • Por Amor an mí: Elígete a diario y mejora tu salud mental by Alma Lozano
  • Mariposas: An Anthology of Modern Queer Latino Poetry edited by Emanuel Xavier
  • Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latina/o LGBT Activism edited by Uriel Quesada, Letitia Gomez, and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz 
  • Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria

Social media profiles 

  • @themiamitherapist: Genesis Games (L.M.H.C.) posts short lessons about emotional health targeted to first-generation Latinx people and children of immigrants. 
  • @she_is_strong_and_mindful: Lorena Ramos (M.A., L.C.S.W.) is a bilingual therapist specializing in trauma-focused therapy who posts empowering quotes and self-care reminders. 
  • @villasenorcounseling: Stephanie Ann Villaseñor ( L.M.F.T.) posts about boundaries, mindfulness, and overcoming trauma. She also shares resources and events for people in Los Angeles County. 
  • @nataliegutierrezlmft: Natalie Y. Gutierrez (L.M.F.T.) specializes in complex PTSD diagnoses for BIPOC people.
  • @lamaripositahealing: Evelyn Mejia (L.M.F.T.) is a Latinx psychotherapist who works with first-generation Latinx patients to heal trauma. 
  • @annieelainey: A queer Latinx writer, creator, and advocate who uses her platform to discuss accessibility for disabled people, diverse representation, and mental health.
  • @ricotaquito: Eric Sedeño is a gay Mexican-American who does everything he can to make his followers laugh. 

Additional resources

  • Bienestar: A community-based social services organization serving the Latinx and LGBTQ communities of Greater Los Angeles. It offers medical care, mental health treatment, and substance use counseling. 
  • California LGBTQ Health and Human Services: Provides a list of mental health resources for LGBTQ Latinx people in California. 
  • Su Familia: The National Hispanic Family Health Helpline: Call 1-866-783-2645 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday for bilingual help finding mental health providers near you. 
  • Therapy Dinero: A grant program that awards winners eight free therapy sessions, regardless of immigration status. 

You’re Welcome at La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center 

La Fuente Hollywood is a leading addiction treatment center in Los Angeles. While our main focus will always be on providing culturally competent care to the LGBTQ community, we know our clients’ identities are intersectional and aim to adjust our programs accordingly. 

Call us today at 888.903.9898 to learn more about our programs. 

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