Mental Health Matters ~ Hanna Center

Hanna Center


Mental health issues affect everyone – including Latinos

Posted on July 3, 2023 by Hanna Center

By Eliana Martin —

Mental health problems are affecting a growing number of people, including those in Latino communities. While the overall mental health crisis is concerning, it’s important to take steps to help the Latino community by examining the social, cultural, and structural issues that impact their well-being. 

Many Latinos have experienced mental health symptoms, yet only one in ten seek treatment. It’s important to find effective, culturally sensitive, and accessible solutions to overcome the current barriers.

Cultural beliefs and attitudes contribute to the stigma of seeking mental health care. Mental illness is often seen as embarrassing, a sign of weakness or disability, and problematic, which can discourage seeking care. Some cultural factors that prevent care include beliefs in culture-bound symptoms, such as nervios (anxiety), susto (fright), and desespero (worry), which are considered normal day-to-day feelings and not given much thought.

It’s interesting to note that for Latinos, there is a difference between the ability to diagnose and the ability to heal, which influences the type of care they seek. Many individuals turn to religious or spiritual rituals for comfort and mental health issues are often seen as a private family matter.

The Latino community faces challenges in accessing mental health care due to low incomes, lack of insurance, transportation issues, and fears related to immigration status. Language barriers also make it difficult to communicate openly about mental health, which can make it harder to navigate the system and obtain accurate care. Providers may also struggle to identify signs of mental health problems and provide early intervention.

Sonoma County has a shortage of programs to support the mental well-being needs of its residents. According to Medi-Cal eligibility statistics, over 9,000 community members in Sonoma Valley are eligible for Medi-Cal, and very few bilingual and culturally competent mental health services are available. As awareness has increased over the years, communities are working hard to reduce the mental health crisis and to reduce the barriers for Latinos.

 The new Community Mental Health Hub at Hanna in Sonoma Valley is filling this role. With a team of bilingual/ bicultural therapists and community health navigators, the goal is to increase culturally competent practices, utilizing alternative screening tools and treatment modalities that take in consideration cultural traits to enhance the emotional well-being of Latinos. 

The Community Mental Health Hub team is already working to provide trauma-informed mental health services and resources to the local Latino community. By increasing outreach and psychoeducation, the Hub hopes to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage more Latinos to seek help. 

Eliana Martin is a Bilingual Mental Health Clinician at the Community Mental Health Hub at Hanna.


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