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Research: Latino Kids Struggle with Mental Health

Mental health is important to wellbeing in childhood and every stage of life. Sadly, 1 in 5 Latino children show signs of depression, which often go untreated, according to a new Salud America! research review. Explore the research to see the many reasons for mental health challenges among this group—immigration, poverty, bullying, discrimination, and more—and see what policies and practices are emerging as beneficial solutions.


Saludpic.jpgAbout 1 in 5 Latino kids show signs of depression, which often goes untreated, according to a new research review from Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.

The Salud America! review examined research on mental health issues among Latino children. They found that violence, discrimination, migration, poverty, bullying, and family issues impact Latino children’s mental health and care in different ways.

See the full research review or watch a summary video.

Here are just a few startling facts:

  • 22% of Latino youth have depressive symptoms, a rate higher than any minority group besides Native American youth.
  • 17.2% of Latino students report being bullied at school.
  • Only 8% of Latinos say their child has ever used mental health care services (vs. 14% of whites).

The Salud America! review uncovers some good news—promising solutions are emerging.

School-based bullying prevention programs can decrease bullying by up to 25%.

Latino children who participated in a P.E. class three times or more a week reported less sadness than those who took it two times or less a week, one study found.

Also, a program w/ home visits and educational sessions led to higher levels of school engagement among Latino 7th-graders and reduced stress, another study found.

The Salud America! review also makes key recommendations:

  • Community leaders should ensure that mental health care for Latino children is sensitive to issues among this group (bullying, discrimination, etc.).
  • Providers should expand culturally oriented training, and increase access to mental health care interpreters and promotoras.
  • Schools and nonprofits should incorporate culturally-relevant mental health programs.

Take, for example, the leaders of clinics in Maricopa County, Ariz. (30% Latino).

Dr. Avein Saaty Tafoya and Lisa Blue of Adelante Healthcare System recognized healthcare barriers facing local Latinos. So they started to seek grants and partnerships to add personnel to expand beyond their historical focus on primary care.

Today their team has primary care physicians, specialists, health coaches, mental and behavioral health social workers, and others who connect families to insurance.

“We simply must take action to create a culture of health where Latino children and families can live, learn, work, and play better,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez director of Salud America!, a national network for healthy change at UT Health San Antonio.