The Latinx community has fallen victim to the growing mental health crisis across the United States. The shared experiences felt by the Latinx community are universal as they can involve similar trauma experienced when immigrating to the United States or growing up as children of immigrants in the United States. According to Funk and Lopez, “The U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.1 million in 2020, accounting for 19% of all Americans and making it the nation’s second largest racial or ethnic group, behind White Americans and ahead of Black Americans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.” As a result, New generations are tasked with dismantling and unlearning the toxic cultural norms passed down from family, which add to the alarming mental health issues.
The experience felt by Latinx youth is something similar yet different in every family. The Latinx culture, often plagued by unjust familial, social, and gender roles, can put the youth in an isolating position. Priscilla María, author of A Latina’s Journey to Self-Care, writes, “Latinas, however, are supplied a special strain of “loyalty.” One laced with co-dependency and side effects of dissatisfaction and neglect. Latinas are taught self-sacrifice over self-care and to take up little space.” Familial and gender roles are placed to depend on the woman and young girls in the family to serve others. Women and young women are to give so much of themselves and are asked to neglect a part of themselves that demands a break physically and mentally. Familial obligations and demands burden women as it fails to grant them time for themselves. The rates of reported mental illness within this community are disturbing, “…According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, overall mental health issues are on the rise for Latinx/Hispanic people between the ages of 12-49.”
Latinx culture relies on family and the unique roles that family members can play. However, toxic cultural and familial norms do not allow for healthy communication. The youth are a part of a new generation that needs new forms of communication to grow.
As of 2022, groups such as “The Latinx Youth Career Development Program” [are] training 50 teens in East Los Angeles over the next two years to staff Teen Line and serve as mental health ambassadors.” (Cedar Sinai). The Latinx population is a highly marginalized group that does not receive great access to healthcare or mental healthcare providers that are Latinx. Therefore, emerging programs that aim to educate teens about spotting someone who may need help in a mental health emergency are increasingly helpful. Training teens to be the center of mental health emergencies can allow them to spot signs in other teens and even families. Allowing them to be in this role can also increase the likelihood of having more Latinx mental health workers. These initiatives work to give back to the community and serve marginalized populations such as the Latinx group.
Many pieces of literature available through the library can help break the communication issue or even help teens unlearn the trauma they’ve experienced. Los Angeles Public Library offers a variety of mental health books and other forms of media to educate individuals on this phenomenon. The books on the recommended list discuss mental health that speaks specifically to the Latinx population and youth.
Valerie is a member of the 2022 cohort of LA Public Library Diversity and Inclusion Apprentices and a rising junior at California State University, Los Angeles, majoring in Psychology. She is interested in raising awareness for the mental health of the Latinx population and other communities that lack understanding of this topic. Her capstone project is aimed at the youth population and involves informing individuals about the mental health crisis affecting minority communities.