The year is almost over and I don’t want to close it without talking to you about a very important topic.
The mental health status of Latino youth.
Every day I see more than one case in the ER.
They approach the registration window and when I ask them why they are here, they very discreetly give me a piece of paper or in a very low voice they tell me that they are being sent from the school for a psychiatric evaluation .
The document they bring is a reference from the tutor , social worker or school psychologist saying that after a therapy session, or an interview with the person, they are afraid that they are in danger of harming themselves or making an attempt on their life and they You need to see an emergency psychiatrist for evaluation.
This is how several young people arrive a day.
Phrases I hear the most in these situations.
- What is the reason for the visit? Why are you coming today?
- At school they told me we had to come in for a psychiatric evaluation. They gave me this paper.
- Is this the first time this has happened?
- No, we were already here 5 months ago for the same thing.
- Have you been receiving therapy? Are you seeing a therapist?
- They gave us a phone number and we called many times but they can’t give us an appointment until next year.
- He has gone twice and they told us that he was already fine.
- After three sessions the insurance no longer covered more visits and I stopped going.
- He says he doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to go.
- And why was he talking to the school psychologist?
- I think she has a lot of anxiety and says she’s depressed. But I don’t know why she can be depressed if she has everything, if we give her everything she wants.
- I am going to ask your child some questions.
- In the last few weeks, have you wished you were dead?
- In the last few weeks, have you felt that you or your family would be better off if you were dead?
- In the last week, have you been thinking about committing suicide?
- Have you ever tried to commit suicide? as?
- Are you thinking of committing suicide right now?
- Do you have a plan of how you would do it?
- Have you written a letter or note to your family?
- Have you done something to hurt yourself? That?
I could go on, but you know this is just a mini-lesson and I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information.
I also want to talk to you a little about the special situation of this issue when it comes to a Latino family.
The stigma of mental health in the Latino community
They usually hide it, cover it up or ignore it. They can also disguise and pretend that it is something else. They believe it is their fault and are afraid of being judged by family, friends, or community members, such as at church.
On the other hand, it is always difficult to raise children between two cultures . Children see one thing on the street, at school, on social networks, on television, but on the other hand, at home they are always reminded that they are Latino and that their culture is not that. And they remind them of religious, cultural and traditional values that clash with their reality outside the home.
Culture shock. Examples.
Some examples would be:
- Always obey parents
- Do not answer badly when they say something to you
- Very traditional values regarding dating and sexual relations
- The presence of religion and of god judging everything
This makes some young people very rebellious and have very bad relationships with their parents. On the other hand, parents do not understand how their children can be depressed. After all, they have made a great sacrifice leaving their countries and coming here to raise them so they can have a better life.
I often hear phrases like:
- It is that in our countries this does not happen, there the boys do not get depressed.
- He says it’s depression but what he wants is attention.
- He is not depressed, he is rebellious.
Can we do more?
I know that this topic is for much more, but today I just wanted to bring you a few phrases that can help you improve communication and better understand your Spanish-speaking patients when they come to you with problems of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
If you are particularly interested in the subject, you can contact me and we can organize a session to answer your questions or to find out what else you want to learn.