RAISING AWARENESS IN THE LATINO COMMUNITY
People who grow up in a Latino community where the standards are having a curvier body type then enter a primary caucasian institution where the standards of appearance and eating habits are completely different. As Latinos become more involved in the American culture, they feel the need to adhere to society's standards of beauty. The "old" way they thought about body image and the "new" one can develop eating disorders. It also increases the pressure of someone who is at risk for an eating disorder.
Misunderstanding about Mental Health:
Majority of the time, mental health issues are not talked about in the Latino community. Majority of Latinos do not seek treatment because they cannot detect the symptoms of mental disorders and do not know where to find help. There is also very little information about mental disorders; most Hispanics also don't seek treatment because they believe they will be seen as "locos" (crazy) or afraid of being shamed if they expose their mental disorder.
Most Latinos keep their life very private and do not often bring up hardships that happen at home. They fear if they expose their issues, people will judge and label the family.
Communication with healthcare professionals can be highly difficult due to language barriers. Even though most doctors do speak Spanish, especially in parts where the Latino population is high, they often lack the knowledge of cultural issues. Keep in mind, if you or a loved one do not speak English you have the complete right to get language-access services at institutions that need government funding. You also have the right to request a trained translator and get forms and information in Spanish.
No Health Issuance:
The Latino community is one-third uninsured. Most of the Latino population have jobs that have low-wages or are self-employed; these are often the Latinos that do not have health insurance.
Culture can cause doctors to give misdiagnosis. For example, the symptoms of depression are often correlated with nervousness, tiredness, or a physical ailment. These are major symptoms of depression but doctors who have a lack of awareness may not be able to recognize that these could indicate depression.
Often times immigrants arrive without documentation and the fear of getting deported can prevent them from getting help. Although millions of children of undocumented immigrant parents can seek health care under to AFFORDABLE CARE act, many families are afraid to register. If you do not have papers, many Latino organizations will provide service despite legal status.
Majority of the Latinos are Roman Catholic and value very close and affectionate relationships with God. This close connection can help the individual beat the eating disorder and provide strength. Spirituality and the church community can serve in helping the individual through obstacles. Even though religion can help during the recovery process, it can often cause a negative impact. Fatalism is a common belief that all events are predetermined and unavoidable which can make recovery a more passive process. Individuals also fear the possibility of persecution due to religion and start to believe their God will distance and become intolerant. In addition, the individual may feel a lack of support of shame from their religious community.
Role of Food:
In the Latino community, meal times are more than just eating. It is a social gathering with a variety of food. Portions are often large and eating excessively is seen as a norm rather than binge eating. As one Mexican American women said, "Food is very scared, you don't waste it," "it's more than just food. It's like food is love for your family. Like the more my grandma loves me, the more she feeds me... You feel really guilty saying no because that's how she shows that she loves you. My grandma is not going to go and hug me, she's going to feed me. so, its like you're saying no to more than just food."
According to Knapp et al, 2009, the gender roles in the Latino culture are often reflected in the home or street. This shows that men are allowed to leave the home for work, events, etc and the women should remain in the house to raise the children, cook, do chores, etc. In addition, it seems as if women have their own set of commandments that place expectations on women. Below are some examples that can prevent a Latina seeking treatment.
-Don't put your needs first
-Don't ask for help
-Don't discuss your personal problems outside the house
HOW TO HELP:
The most effective way we can promote mental illness is by changing the publics understanding over mental illness. A mental disorder should be seen as a serious disease that requires medical help. This is not only specific to the Latino community but to the Americans as well. It is highly essential that Latinos should not feel ashamed or judged for seeking treatment for their mental illness. Cultural acknowledgment will not happen easily, it will take an immense amount of effort and time from both the medical side and the public. The most effective way cultural acknowledgment can be spread is through education. This is the first step to improving the mental health in the Latino community. Many Latinos sit in silence because they don't even realize they have a mental disorder. Prevention is the most successful way in treating eating disorders and depression. Education is key for spreading prevention.