Is everything okay with your teenager? Mental Illness in Latina Teens By Karla Palma



Mental illness amongst teenage Latinas is continually rising and will continue to rise if there are no proper resources being provided. There can be several different reasons mental health trauma can occur; this specific topic will be adolescent Latinas. So what is mental illness? Most define mental illness as a health condition that primarily involves emotions, behavior, and/or thinking. In the Hispanic community, there are several silently suffering from a form of mental health unknowingly. We all go through traumatic events at some point in our lives. These traumas do not appear in a physical form like scraping your knee or breaking your leg. These traumas influence the way the brain interprets and thinks, which can cause the brain to alter the way someone lives their life. Without the proper care, these changes can severely impact that person’s life. Just as an untreated broken leg, permanent changes happen.


A Latina teenager is more susceptible to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and suicide. As a community, the Hispanic community is less likely to seek out professional mental health. The Hispanic community is not as open about mental health as other communities are. Another factor as to why the Hispanic community does not seek out professional help is due to some language barriers, which is not as prominent an issue as it has been in the past. The last reason is due to finances. Since mental illness does not present in a physical form, parents are more willing to take a blind eye because it is not something that can be physically viewed as an issue. This is why most parents are not willing to spend money on therapy or counseling.

As a whole, the Hispanic community really doesn't speak on mental health issues. Compared to other peers Latinas are less likely to receive treatment. This is why adolescent Latinos are more susceptible to a mental illness. According to Mental Health America, there are 18.6% Latino/Hispanic in America, and of that percentage, 16% have reported having a mental illness in the past year. According to Sunshine Behavioral Health in 2018, the second leading cause of death for Latinos/Hispanics was suicide. 12.6% to 15.1% of Latino youth, aged 12 to 17 are dealing with major depressive disorder.


Since mental health is not always something physical, it is easily overlooked and ignored. One of the main reasons the Hispanic community does not seek mental health help is due to a language barrier (not everyone in a Latino/Hispanic community speaks Spanish). There are so many different cultures and languages in the Latino/Hispanic community that it could be difficult in finding a professional who would understand the background and speaks the language. Luckily in the past years, there has been a slight increase in the number of bilingual professionals in the mental health community. Meaning that there are more and more resources for the Latino/Hispanic community to understand how and what mental health is about. It is important to find resources and luckily if you are reading this you have found a place in the community where you can access resources.