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Why Bilingual Inclusion in Mental Health Services Matters

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It’s no secret that many people, especially students, lack access to mental health treatment. While the reasons for this can vary dramatically among social groups, linguistic inclusion is an important aspect to consider. In the Latino community, the unavailability of Spanish therapists can be a barrier to obtaining the support needed. The lack of bilingual availability in mental health treatment is one of the major disadvantages and difficulties faced by Latinos looking for treatment. By prioritizing multilingual and culturally sensitive care, equitable gaps in mental health treatment can be addressed.

Latinos in the US still experience major gaps in the availability of mental health care. Only 35.1% of Hispanic/Latino individuals with mental illness receive treatment annually, which is significantly less than the national average of 46.2%, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This shocking result highlights a harsh reality: Latinos seeking assistance face unique challenges in the American healthcare system.

Hispanics place a high value on the Spanish language. 87 to 65 percent, respectively, of first- to third-generation Hispanics speak Spanish. Language plays a significant part in the cultural identification of Hispanics since the majority of Latinos wish to preserve both their language and culture.

Being a part of a particular group has a significant role in the majority of Latino identities. The Latino community is not a homogenous culture and language and lived experiences between countries like Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Colombia vary significantly. Because all Latinos are not the same and should not be regarded or treated as such, therapists must understand the many cultural origins that comprise the Latino communities living in the United States. Every Spanish-speaking individual comes from a unique background with their own set of advantages and difficulties. Most likely, she or he will be proud to be a native of wherever it is they may come from.

The number of cases of serious mental illness (SMI) has increased among Hispanics and Latinos in recent years. According to Mental Health America, SMI increased from 4% to 6.4% among those aged 18 to 25, and 2.2% to 3.9% among people aged 26 to 49, between 2008 and 2018. These figures demonstrate the critical need for easily available and culturally competent mental health services that cater to Latinos' unique requirements.

Latinos continue to experience cultural stigma related to mental health concerns, which makes it even harder for the ones seeking help. Latinos are more likely than other groups to disregard mental health services due to cultural norms, misinformation, discomfort, and fear of judgment.  It's common for people to see getting therapy for mental health challenges as a sign of weakness or risk to one's family's reputation.

The misunderstanding of mental health is significantly influenced by culture as well. During doctor appointments, Spanish-speaking patients may prioritize physical problems over psychological symptoms, making it challenging for medical professionals to recognize and successfully treat mental health disorders. This language barrier contributes to the Latino community's ongoing misperception and underrecognition of mental health issues. Doctors may not have the linguistic capabilities to connect with Latino patients. 

A revolutionary approach to address these issues and give Latinos more control over their mental health is through bilingual inclusion in mental health services. By providing services in both English and Spanish, mental health providers can create a secure and welcoming environment where people may communicate their worries honestly, openly, and without fear. 

For universities, bilingual therapy can offer more effective communication, which results in more accurate diagnoses, individualized care plans, and increased therapeutic connections. This also celebrates diversity and connotes inclusion and cultural awareness. By taking into account the significance of cultural quirks, this approach makes sure that Spanish speakers may completely express their experiences and emotions in a language that resonates with them.

The opportunity to communicate in their own language greatly increases patients' feelings of comfort. The conversation is more genuine and impactful when they can express their emotions in this language. Patients may have a stronger emotional release as a result, leaving the session with a genuine sense of rapport, and a sense of having made progress. 

Language inclusivity fosters trust and can remove any boundaries that translation might impose. Cultural awareness and understanding are also promoted by bilingual mental health care. Professionals can provide more effective and individualized interventions by comprehending the distinct cultural environment in which mental health issues arise.

This method of treatment acknowledges the complex connection between a person's mental health and their cultural identity. Honoring the different experiences and viewpoints held by the Latino community, it is impossible to overestimate the value of bilingual participation in mental health treatment. Through bilingual, easily available therapy to adequately meet Latinos' mental health needs, equitable gaps in treatment can be closed.

More than offering greater in-treatment care, the offering of bilingual therapy showcases an extra degree of care and attention that can tear down barriers to entry. Therapy has traditionally not been offered and advertising a service that not only is in Spanish but understands unique cultural challenges is important for behavior change. 

CampusCare is a bilingual therapy provider that focuses on holistic solutions for collegiate Hispanic Serving Institutions. With bilingual licensed therapists, the Latino community can have access to the support they need. Through an affordable and transparent pricing structure for telehealth, crisis, and talk therapy, together we can create a future in which language or culture is not a barrier to treatment.

If you are interested in learning more about our program feel free to book a demo here

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