In a series of recent studies, some unknown realities of Hispanic youth have come to light. The studies expose some dire statistics about the mental health of our youth.
One such survey was the 2012 CDC report which indicates that teenage Latinas are more likely to attempt suicide (13.5%) compared to other teenage females (8.8% for non-Hispanic blacks, and 7.9 for non-Hispanic whites). According to Dr. Rosa Gil of Comunilife, some 17% of Latinas in New York City are actively considering suicide.
Another study says that Latina teens are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide after being bullied.
Numbers such as these are not only shocking, but heartbreaking for our community. Many experts believe that our teens are facing such high tendencies due to many reasons. For instance, some suggest that teens from migrant families have a hard time readjusting to a new culture, and feel isolated, thus contributing to the numbers.
Perhaps the hardest obstacles to overcome are the stigma of mental illness among Latinos, as well as the lack of access to appropriate medical resources. The New York State Psychiatric Institute has found that Latinos are more likely to seek help from friends or clergy, than professionals, compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Those who do seek professional help often have a hard time getting access to mental health specialists, due to the shortage of bilingual and bicultural professionals and deficiencies in culturally sensitive services.
In short, this is an issue that deeply impacts our community, though there is a stigma as well as limited awareness. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, and thankfully several groups in our community are leading the charge to bring awareness of mental health issues to Latinos across the U.S.
To learn more about one group is doing to raise awareness, visit here.