A couple of months ago I did a “gender issues in recovery” episode with my friend Bridget Cooper. The response was good! ALL voices and experiences matter, so this week we chat with Dr. Lisa Cortez about anxiety and mental health issues in the Latinx community. Lisa and I discussed cultural, religious and gender issues that impact mental health treatment and anxiety recovery in the Latinx community.
Dr. Lisa is a VERY BUSY practicing therapist in south Texas. Her region is predominately Mexican-American. Lisa’s own heritage and her involvement in the mental health of her community have provided her with an inside look at the issues that Latinx men and women face when approaching anxiety and mental health in general.
- In the Latinx community, you don’t talk about your feelings, and you DEFINITELY don’t talk about them with a therapist! Inroads are being made, but more education is needed about the harmful nature of this cultural belief.
- Much of this belief is rooted in machismo, the desire to not appear weak, and pervasive worry about what others will think of you. Dr. Lisa made a good point about this possibly being rooted in the lack of acceptance in general. To residents, in Latinx “home countries”, Latin-Americans are “gringas”. To American’s they’re foreigners, even when born and raised here! Being stuck between countries and cultures would make anyone defensive!
- While the younger generation is more likely to speak openly about mental health and reach out for help, often they are rebuffed by the older generation. In this situation, parents and societal elders have to be educated, and that bias managed even before help can be provided to those in need.
- Latinx men have things even worse. While the community in general tends to shy away from speaking about emotions and mental health issues, Latinx men are battling even greater cultural taboos surrounding reaching out for help.
- For Latinx women, the culture places tremendous value and emphasis upon being a caretaker. This means that spending time and effort on one oneself – reaching out for mental health assistance or taking time to do things that are self-focused is often looked down upon. Family first! Don’t be selfish! These are difficult cultural and societal pressures to deal with for anyone, much less someone gripped by disordered anxiety.
Everyone faces challenges when dealing with anxiety and mental health issues. Sometimes our cultural and societal backgrounds can make things even more challenging. Shining a light on this kind of thing is the first step toward making it easier to talk about mental health problems and seek assistance when needed.
Thank you to Dr. Lisa for taking the time so share her personal and professional experiences with us. They are valuable and need to be heard!
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Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)
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