Hispanic/Latinx communities have an added risk of experiencing mental health disorders because of the stress of discrimination while simultaneously trying to navigate between living in two different cultures; living in America and identifying with their native culture.
With less access to mental health treatment, the Hispanic and Latinx communities are at a higher risk for more chronic and severe cases of mental health disorders, as studies have shown that without sufficient treatment, mental health conditions often worsen with the potential for a new co-occurring mental health or substance use disorder to appear.
The same trend is seen among substance use disorders in the Hispanic and Latinx communities, except for Puerto Rican men and women.
Compared to a rate of 7.4% among the total population,7.1% of Hispanic Americans have a substance use disorder.
Rates of alcohol dependence (5.3%) and binge drinking (24.6%) among Hispanics are similar to those of the general U.S. population.
According to a recent study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, Puerto Rican men and women tend to be the heaviest drinkers of all Hispanic Americans. The study authors propose that the reason Puerto Ricans are almost three times more likely to develop alcohol use disorders than non-Hispanic white Americans.
This is due to many unique barriers to care that include language barriers, lack of health coverage, cultural transitions, legal status, and stigma.
However, to overcome these challenges, it is essential to have bilingual professionals who can communicate effectively, educate the community about health insurance options and provide affordable mental health and substance abuse care. As a community, we must come together to ensure that we all have access to quality care and support to promote healthy living, particularly as the Hispanic and Latinx population continues to grow. Remember, taking care of your mental health and seeking treatment is a sign of strength, and you are not alone in this journey.