Mental Health Services During COVID-19 on High Demand Among Latinos, but Supply Runs Low
Many Latinos are suffering from the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but services to help them psychologically are running low.
For years, Latinos have already been facing challenges in getting culturally competent mental health care. The situation they are facing grew worse because of COVID-19.
Mental health practitioners all over the U.S. are getting more referrals from patients in the Latino community, according to a Poynter report.
American Psychological Association found in a survey that only 5.5 percent of psychologists can give services in Spanish. In addition to that, only 7 percent of psychologists identify as Hispanic, according to census data.
Latinos Worry About COVID-19 in the Workplace
Family therapist Genesis Espinoza noticed the impact of the pandemic on Latinos during her practice in California.
She said a lot of her patients are worried that they're going to get COVID-19 infected. Even her patients who tested positive and have recovered were worried that they would get the virus again.
Most of the worry comes from getting the coronavirus in the workplace. More Hispanic workers get impacted by the virus while working in food processing and manufacturing plants and agricultural workplaces compared to last spring, reported CNN.
In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Monday, it was found that 73 percent of workers in meat and poultry plants with COVID-19 were Hispanic or Latino. That is despite this demographic accounting for only 37 percent of the overall U.S. workforce.
With those findings, the CDC wrote that race and ethnicity disparities were likely related to occupational risk.
Other Factors Come Into Play for Latino Mental Health
Other than the likelihood to test positive, there are also some factors that affected the mental health of Latinos during the pandemic, an NBC News report said.
According to McKinsey & Company, they are more economically vulnerable and face more challenges in accessing care.
In a survey by Commonwealth Fund, more than half of Latinos showed financial struggle during the pandemic. They were unable to access basic necessities or had to use up all of their saving. Some also had to borrow money in order to survive the pandemic.
All these factors can play a part in affecting someone's mental health. It rings true for Hispanics as Commonwealth Fund also cited the higher rates of stress, anxiety, and great sadness among the demographic.
They reported about 40 percent of the said negative psychological impacts, a lower percentage compared to whites at 29 percent.
Latinos Seek Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care
Espinoza noted that there is a significant change in her patients when she mentions her mother is from El Salvador.
She said her familiarity with Latino immigrant culture helped her establish a connection with her patients.
"The minute I say that, I see a complete shift," she said. Her patients change body language and start talking more.
An opinion piece from Latino Rebels also said that language plays a part in making certain populations vulnerable to the pandemic.
From prevention to treatment, it is likely that Spanish-speaking Latinos will suffer from language barriers when getting care from the U.S.
Espinoza recognized that having therapists with whom patients are "able to identify with" can help with the care received. Patients are also able to speak comfortably as the therapist also speaks the same language.
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