Trends In Latino Mental Disorders And Their Treatments

By: Luis Torres

In 1995, Deborah Duran of the University of Denver established the correlation between the acculturation process and depression. Her findings led to the development of breakthrough research on the effects of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation on suicide, depression, anxiety, and mental illness.

Recent "Did You Know" reports published by the National Association on Mental Illness found that U.S. born Latinos and long-tern residents had higher rates of mental illness than recent immigrants. Among some of the most striking pieces of information are-

  • Place of birth has a significant correlation with subsequent risk for psychiatric disorders
  • Foreign born Mexican Americans are at a significantly lower risk of suicide and depression than those born in the U.S.
  • Long-term residency in the U.S. largely increases the rates of mental disorders, with dramatically increased rates of substance abuse

The emerging pattern in Latino mental disorder studies illustrates that the cultural schizogenesis and cultural shock in acculturation processes may induce severe mental stress capable of incapacitating people with mental disorders, depression, suicide and mental instability. There exists however, as the article points out, several barriers to the treatment and proper care of these issues in the Latino community. Among some of the most striking pieces of information are—

  • Mental illness research does not adequately include Latinos
  • Lack of culturally competent service providers
  • The existing studies about language skills of mental health professionals reveal that there are few Spanish-speaking service providers

National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI's Multicultural and Intercultural Outreach Center
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