Study: Latinos Struggle to Get Access to Appropriate MH Care

Latinos Lack Mental Health Treatment, Study Says

By Kacy Capobres  Fox News Latino January 24, 2013


As the national debate on mental health issues heats up, a new study shows that Latino children are less likely to receive psychological treatment.

Only 24 percent of Latino children receive treatment for mental issues, compared with 47 percent of non-Latinos, according to the UCLA’s California Health Interview survey released this week.

The findings were based on data from 2005, 2007 and 2009. The survey, conducted every two years, involved interviews with about 17,000 parents.

Jim Banta, an assistant professor of public health at Loma Linda University in California who has worked with UCLA in the past, was surprised that race was still such a large factor.

“I was expecting race to not come up as being significant,” Banta told Fox News Latino. “I would have thought by now, in a progressive state like California, race wouldn’t matter anymore.”

The biggest factor contributing to mental health treatment among Latinos, he said, is economic circumstances that lead to a lack of medical insurance.

The latest statistics from the U.S. Census show Latinos are the largest uninsured group in the country, with over 30 percent of the population without health coverage.

But a lack of health insurance is not the only reason Latinos are not seek mental help.

“Some of the biggest obstacles that I have noticed are the lack of truly bilingual mental health therapists,” Daniel Huerta, a bilingual licensed clinical social worker, wrote in an email to Fox News Latino.

Carmen Collado, president of the Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals, said the lack of bilingual mental health services in the U.S. in a growing problem.

“The whole problem is not that Latinos don’t want services for their family,” Collado said. “The problem is the waiting list for services and the lack of Spanish-speaking clinicians.”

Experts say eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness in the Latino community is also important.  

“We can certainly start somewhere in systematically helping Latino families find mental health help for themselves, their marriages, their children, or their families” Huerta said.