HOUSTON (KIAH) Mental health is being more openly discussed in our schools, in our communities, and in the media we consume. But one behavioral health provider says more needs to be done to eliminate the stigma in the Hispanic population.

The issue. The Hispanic community has long been resistant to taking care of their mental health. According to one behavioral health provider, Latinos fear if they get help or speak to a counselor they would be labeled as “crazy.”

What he said. “We don’t talk about it. It didn’t exist basically. There was a lot of ‘Stay away from that person’ or nobody never had a conversation on anxiety. I have not met a single person in any race that does not have some anxiety. It is a completely normal thing. Never talk about it in the Hispanic community. It was never brought up,” said Victor Rivera, a behavioral health provider.

Rivera shared the story of one of his patients and what drives migrants to understate the dangerous trek to the United States. 

“I have an individual is see in trying to get here…he almost died. Because there is no easy way to get here. he was trying to pursue better for his family. So you are taking emotional mental health along the way and you get here and you do not speak the language,” he said.

The numbers. According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

  • Only 34% of Hispanic adults with mental illness receive treatment each year
  • The U.S. average is 45%

According to Mental Health America of Greater Houston:

  • 18.3% of the U.S. population is estimated to be Latino or Hispanic
  • Of those, more than 16% reported having a mental illness in 2019
  • That equals more than 10 million people

Why it matters. Rivera points out immigrants deal with the trauma of coming to this country – many nearly dying or seeing others lose their life on the way.

The challenges for newly arrived immigrants also include being immersed into a new culture, economic issues or being treated or seen in a certain way.

Rivera mentioned he has “not met a single person in the Hispanic community that I do counseling with that doesn’t have PTSD. It is across the board.”

The solution. One key to addressing the negative stigma and for a Hispanic person to open up about their mental health needs is finding a counselor they trust, suggested Rivera. He said the trust can come in the form of speaking to a counselor that is a Hispanic native.

Resources. The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD provides at our outpatient mental health services. Below are some of their brochures.

  • Click here to download the Outpatient Mental Health Services Brochure for Adults.
  • Click here to learn more about the Early Onset Psychosis Program (EOPP).
  • Click here to download the Outpatient Mental Health Services Brochure for Children (for the Spanish version, click here).

Additional resource: