Mental health experts in Tulsa said they are concerned about the COVID-19 impact among those in the Hispanic and Latinx community.
The pandemic has taken a toll on the community, but they said the solution is complicated.
The National Center for Health Statistics says 40 percent of Hispanics experienced anxiety or depression between April and November of 2020, the highest percentage among all ethnicity groups.
The mental health crisis is worsened by a rise in unemployment, family deaths and domestic violence.
Jocelin Baeza with Mental Health Association Oklahoma said immigrant families don’t typically reach out for help. She said it’s not simply a health issue but a cultural issue, as well.
“We don’t prioritize our own wellness,” Baeza said. “We prioritize the wellness of our own family, and then we leave ourselves to the end.”
Baeza said the education she received regarding mental health when she lived in Mexico was completely different from living in the U.S.
“It was something that we didn’t think it existed,” Baeza said. “You felt sad, it’s OK. Just shake it off. You don’t have time to do this. You have to tend to your kids. You have to tend to your husband. Like, you have things to do.”
Dr. Martha Zapata is a psychologist who immigrated to Tulsa from Columbia. Dr. Zapata said having more Spanish speakers in the field could be key to combating the stigma.
“What we need most is a person who understands our cultural background and our linguistic background,” Dr. Zapata said.
Mental Health Association Oklahoma has weekly virtual meetings where Spanish speaking experts offer advice to the community.
For more information on mental health resources, click here.