Strengthening My Community: Learning About Mental Health

Oct 4, 2023 | 
Hispanic Heritage Month

The Hispanic & Latino community experiences many barriers to Mental Health. One of them is stigma. There is not as much stigma around physical health – but when it comes to mental health, there is this narrative that the only people who look for help are the “crazy” people. Another barrier is the cost of services – services for mental health are expensive and many people cannot afford it.

I am a first-generation Mexican American and I grew up in Oregon. My family is from Yucatan, Mexico. My Mayan heritage is intertwined with my Mexican American heritage.

Growing up, mental health was not talked about in our household, so when I started to learn about it, I became very interested in learning more.

The more I learned about Mental Health, the more skills I learned that everybody could benefit from. I studied Psychology and Social Science at Portland State and got my bachelor’s degree.

Learning about mental health has inspired me to bring change to future generations within my community.

When I was young, my parents didn’t teach me coping skills for my anger or anxiety. If they saw that I was angry, they would usually just tell me to stop being angry. However, it’s okay to be angry, it’s an emotion we all experience. Now, when I see that my nephew is angry, I can talk to him and let him know that It’s okay to be angry – and encourage him to deal with that in a healthy way instead of having it build up within him.

Now in my job, I work with children who are impacted by trauma and often have behavioral issues. In my role, I teach kids everyday life skills and coping skills for how to take care of themselves emotionally.

When I talk to people in my community, I try to get them to see that seeking help for mental health is not a weakness, it’s a strength.

Here’s how I explained it to my dad: Just like your car that needs maintenance to keep running properly, our bodies and minds are the same way. We go to the doctor to maintain our physical health; and we must do that for our mental health as well.

Taking care of your mental health is strengthening yourself. If we can strengthen ourselves, each other, and our communities, our communities can do better.

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By Carlos, Community Partner

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