As an organization that has long championed the importance of caring for mental health, the beginning of this year's Mental Health Awareness Month is particularly special to all of us here at La Familia. Each year, we serve hundreds of people who either have mental health challenges themselves or who have a loved one with those needs. One of the reasons that we know our work is so needed is that, while Latinos have the same prevalence of mental health needs, they seek treatment far less often than their non-Latino peers.
Mental health needs are more in-demand than ever, and 15% of Latinos living in the United States have had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year. Of these individuals, only 10% sought treatment; contrary to popular belief, however, according to a recent report “Hispanics or Latinos may have more positive attitude toward mental health treatment seeking than non-Hispanic whites.”
Part of the reason we believe that this happens is a lack of access to culturally- and linguistically-appropriate services. Here at La Familia, we have made it a top priority to ensure that our work is informed constantly by best practices in responding to the cultural needs of our clients and to staffing our programs with bilingual and bi-cultural staff. At our Outpatient and Developmental Departments, for example, ALL of our direct service providers are bilingual in Spanish.
In addition, the breadth and variety of our mental health services offerings means that, for many people who come in for one service and find that they would benefit from another -- starting with family therapy, for example and identifying that a parent could be supported by our Recovery and Wellness Department -- we can create a smooth transition which can lead to better outcomes for the entire family unit.
By ensuring that our available services meet the needs of the Latino community, we believe that we can improve our community. La Familia has been working diligently towards this goal for more than 40 years and we will continue to do some in many years to come.