Many Latinx adults in the U.S. suffering from common mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety disorders, do not seek mental health care services and when they do seek care, they tend to drop out of care prematurely or receive poor quality mental health care. These inequities in mental health care tend to persist even after accounting for socioeconomic factors, health insurance and mental health needs and tend to be more pronounced among Latinx immigrants and for those whose English is not their native language. A combination of person-level barriers, including stigma toward mental illnesses, fear, cultural norms that view mental illness as being débil (weak), and lack of knowledge and misconceptions about mental illness and treatments limit many Latinx adults’ efforts to seek and engage in mental health care in a timely manner.
As the field moves from understanding mental health care disparities to reducing them, our collaborative aims to eliminate these significant barriers to mental health care by developing, testing, and disseminating culturally-grounded, theoretically-sound, and empirically-supported mental health literacy tools and anti-stigma interventions for Latinx communities. The entertainment-education framework, a health communication strategy that embeds educational messages into popular entertainment media (e.g., fotonovelas, soap operas, social media), informs our work, to increase knowledge and awareness, create favorable attitudes, reduce stigma, and motivate behavioral and educational changes. We aim to collaborate with a range of stakeholders from Latinx communities in St. Louis and across the U.S. to inform our efforts to reduce stigma and improve mental health literacy.
The goals of our collaborative are to
- Partner with local and national experts and community stakeholders on how to develop new innovative online and multimedia platforms (e.g., website, apps, podcast, television, radio) to disseminate mental health literacy tools to the Latinx community.
- Host talks and panel discussions with community stakeholders, local and national experts to examine how information about mental illness, mental health treatments, and stigma are disseminated to Latinx communities in the U.S. and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Develop a web-based resource guide of mental health services in English and Spanish for the St. Louis Latinx community.
- Explore how to best develop, test, and disseminate mental health literacy tools for the St. Louis Latinx community
Nancy J. Pérez-Flores
PhD Student, Brown School of Social Work