Access to mental health is lacking for Oregon’s growing Latinx community, study finds

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A new report on access to mental health care from Oregon shows that Spanish speakers make up 10% of licensed mental health providers and Latinx providers make up just 3%. In 2016, Latinxes made up 12% of the state’s population.

The report, released Thursday by the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, analyzes 30 years of data and offers suggestions on how to improve equity and access to mental health services for the Latinx community.

He reveals that licensed mental health providers who speak Spanish are also not evenly distributed across the state, leaving some areas without any. This makes it difficult for Spanish speakers to seek quality care where they can effectively communicate their needs.

Even if a vendor speaks Spanish, Latinxs can still face cultural barriers because the community is so diverse, and depending on the region of a country they are from, words and body language can have different interpretations. , which makes them more difficult to deepen, connect with a therapist and effectively improve their mental health. Additionally, many Oregon websites are written only in English.

Even for those who can access a Spanish speaking professional, they may still face other cultural differences and have difficulty communicating due to the diverse community within the Latinx population.

The majority of the country of origin of these Oregonians is Mexico, where many indigenous languages ​​are spoken. Other countries and regions of origin include Cuba, Central America, and Puerto Rico, all countries with varying historical backgrounds.

An Oregon mental health care provider quoted in the report states, “The experience of accessing mental health services through a translator really has an impact on the accessibility of services. Many even choose not to start the services, or if they try it they will only go once or twice, then opt out. “

Another provider says, “I have to rely more on my culture to understand how to talk to elders, what types of words trigger. We don’t use the word “anxiety”. It doesn’t make sense for families. “

The Latinx population has experienced a unique trauma due to the political climate of the past four years, with children separated from their families and the constant fear of deportation, causing lasting devastation. This means that equitable access to mental health services is more critical than ever.

However, the report points out that one of the reasons the Latinx community might be reluctant to try to access mental health care is fear that someone will find out their immigrant status and risk being deported or detained. which further increases stress levels.

“This unjust and possibly illegal detention will leave lasting psychological scars on the children and their families,” the report concludes. “It brings together the virus and the legal catastrophes of 2020.”


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