Mental Health Struggles within the Latinx Community

By Alex Ortega and Cynthia Morales

Esquipulas Santoyo, a Latinx Citizen who was born in Mexico and came to the US at the age of four, reflects on what it has been like to be from a Hispanic household and to deal with his mental health issues through therapy.

“I could tell them I’m a little depressed. I just want some space and every single time when I want that, they think I’m crazy. They think I’m angry, they think I’m mad or just plain nervous,” said Santoyo, “you know, like, that doesn’t really help at all. But I’ve never really heard any good things about it from my family.”

Esquipulas is not the only one with an experience like this. Everyone is susceptible to the challenges of mental health regardless of their background. However, the negative stigma associated with mental health treatment pushes many people away from seeking treatment and puts them at risk for deteriorating their mental health. 

According to a study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 33% of Latino adults with mental illnesses receive treatment each year compared to the U.S. average of 43%.

Chicago Demographics

A report conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Metropolitan Family services, determined which communities in Chicago had the largest number of Hispanics/Latinos. They concluded that Little Village came in second with a population of 62,928. 

Why this Matters

This is important to note because it demonstrates that the Latinx community is growing both in the suburbs and in the city. However, with this growth there is evidence that suggests that education, annual income, access to public services, affordable healthcare, etc. is not able to keep up with the growth and needs that come along with it.

Access to these services is important for everyone but specifically for Latinx individuals who suffer from mental health because of the stigma that comes from it.

“They have this stereotype that if you seek out mental health services you are then “crazy,” or that if one is depressed for example they can just get over it,” said Luis Salas, a case manager at the UIC Counseling Center.

This aligns with what David Cruz, a 23 year old Latinx citizen dealing with the issue, said when he was asked about his own experience with Latinos in regards to mental health. 

“They think that … sometimes people are overreacting or they do or they say what they have (e.g. diagnosis) just to get attention,” he said. 

Despite this stigma within the Latinx community, a study by Arturo Carrillo found that 80% of the community wants professional help but don’t know who to turn to or where to go. There are not enough resources to keep up with the growing Latinx population and rather than the city looking for ways to help them, the city has closed off 6 of the 12 mental health clinics in Chicago.  

Little Village in Chicago/Wikimedia.commons

Reasons why people don’t reach out

One of the reasons why people don’t reach out for treatment is due to the lack of insurance. 

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report published in 2017, 19% of people identifying as Hispanic had no form of health insurance.

Salas believes that the Latinx community is not placing enough importance towards mental health because he has had students reach out to him for help, but because they were under their parents insurance they were unable to use it because their parents did not believe in mental health treatment.

Salas continued to express that parents of the Latinx community tend to look at counseling as an inferior form of treatment or simply prefer to address the issues with their own religious beliefs. 

“There’s also the notion of people maybe going to a priest, or curandero, rather than a mental health professional or simply turning to religion,” said Salas. 

Another factor that was found throughout these interviews was male masculinity, or as it is known in Latinx communities, machismo. It was cited as a component that restricts people from seeking help.

With machismo, there is a sense of masculine pride and this could downplay mental health issues. They (parents) could say stuff like “estas bien, no tienes nada, se te va pasar, just suck it up” which could then be a factor in why people aren’t seeking mental health services,” Salas said. 

“It’s pretty bad because you’re not allowed to show emotion. You always have to hold back your tears and all the sadness and […] you can’t really express yourself,” said Cruz, when discussing his own experience with machismo within his household.

Santoyo similarly expressed that his own machismo would prevent him from seeking help until it was too big to ignore.

“I didn’t want to share my thoughts with anybody else. But things hit the fan, and I kind of really needed help. So I had to seek it out.” 

What’s being done to combat the stigma in Chicago

Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood is known for its large Mexican-American population. These are mental health facilities that are located near Little Village.

How you can help

Check on your friends and family to make sure their mental health is stable. Support their beliefs but also motivate them to seek help. Oftentimes, they just want someone to help them make the first step.

 “If it wasn’t for my girlfriend who said, ‘No, just go out and seek help’ because she had done it, then I would have never done it myself. You just need somebody to do it first. And that’s what happened in my case,” said Santoyo.

Listed below are some resources that you can reach out to it if you yourself or a loved one are experiencing these issues and are unable to talk with your family about this topic. 

Due to COVID-19, many clinics and community organizations have transitioned online but continue to take calls in order to assist those in need since social isolation contributes to mental health problems. 

Google Trends: Kobe Bryant’s death overshadows Grammy’s; U.S. shows increasing concern over coronavirus

By Alex Ortega

Kobe Bryant’s sudden death overshadows the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards

On Sunday at 1:24 p.m. CT, TMZ had reported that former Los Angeles Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, died at the age of 41. It was later confirmed that he and his daughter were among the nine victims of a deadly helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

According to a Google search analysis on Google Trends, Kobe Bryant rapidly became a popular search in the U.S. after the news article was published. Prior to the article’s publication, Kobe Bryant searches were seemingly non existent.

This tragedy occurred just hours prior to the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. The ceremony premiered live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Coincidentally, this location is home to the basketball team that Bryant once played with, the Los Angeles Lakers.

The show opened with a tribute to Bryant from host, Alicia Keys. It included performances by Tyler. the Creator, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and many more. However, the passing of Bryant took the world and the internet by surprise.

According to a Google search analysis on Google Trends, Kobe Bryant searches were still trending higher throughout the day in comparison to the Grammy’s and Billie Eilish.

The eighteen year old artist became the youngest in history to win the ceremony’s top four categories that night.

She is also the second person to accomplish this feat since 1981 when Christopher Cross won the top four categories.

Despite the performances and the astonishing feat set by eighteen year old Billie Eilish, the news of Kobe Bryant’s death proved too big to surpass. The announcement of Eilish’s feat merely resulted in a tie for searches with the Grammy’s.

Concern over coronavirus increases as more cases appear throughout the United States

The 2019 novel coronavirus, as it is officially known, was first detected in Wuhan, China and has become of much concern around the globe.

On January 21st, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case of coronavirus in America when a man from the state of Washington returned from a recent trip to Wuhan.

According to a Google search analysis on Google Trends, coronavirus began to increase in searches in the United States as the first case was confirmed.

This trend has been increasing since then due to the emerging information that is presented on a daily basis. As of January 27th, there are five confirmed cases in the United States, and at least 106 people in China have died from the virus.

Although these statistics are alarming, the CDC has recently issued a statement, deeming that the health risk is low at the time.

This is a similar sentiment that was shared by the Los Angeles County Health Department. However, they did add that everyone should practice good public health hygiene since it is currently the height of flu season.

According to the CDC, influenza (flu) activity begins to peak in the United States from December to February. As a result, many people begin to search the internet for symptoms and how to prevent it.

However, according to a Google search analysis on Google Trends, flu was a common search in the past thirty days until coronavirus overtook it around the time that the first U.S. case was announced.

Despite the CDC’s efforts, public concern will continue growing for coronavirus over the flu as long as there continues to be coronavirus cases in the United States and the rest of the world.

Quinn: Pensions Threatening MAP Grant Program

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo/Bob Smith)

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn. 

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required. 

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