You know, ever since we saw every single member of our family personified in the movie Encanto, it appears as if the topic of mental health within the Latino community has finally presented itself as a wide-open door of opportunity. So can we talk about it now? Can we open up for once to admit that perfectionism doesn’t exist, that it’s ok to talk about our feelings, it’s ok to open up, it’s ok to be vulnerable, it’s ok to talk about our trauma, and it’s ok to ask for help?

The foundational groundwork we all experience as children has a significant impact on how our genetic predispositions are expressed that potentially make a lasting imprint on how we connect to the world. Many of us can relate that the foundation we grew up with has us making our best attempts at ending cycles of generational trauma.

According to a 2019 report of serious mental illness among Hispanics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 51.2% Hispanic young adults did not seek treatment for their serious mental illness. You will find that major depressive episodes with severe impairment among Hispanics have significantly increased for ages 12-49 and continue to increase (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020).

How do we begin to unpack these staggering statistics as a culture? It is one that will take time to navigate with the understanding that asking for help is not something to be seen as being weak, even if we were conditioned to believe that it is.

You don’t understand the influence childhood abuse has on your life until you do. According to a 2017 research review conducted by Salúd America, nearly 4 in 5 Latino youth suffer at least one traumatic childhood experience, like poverty or abuse, and lack the proper care, support, and environment they need for healthy development in formative years (Ramirez, A.).

I am certain that most of us have experienced some kind of life altering experience and/or circumstance in our lives on one or more occasions. The important thing to know is that you are not alone and it is ok to ask for help. Once we can normalize the concept of self-care, with mental health maintenance at the top of all of our self-care lists, we will talk about it here, as often as possible, to show our community that it’s a big deal to take care of not only your physical needs, but your mental and emotional needs as well.

If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, please call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255. Please tell someone.


2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Hispanics. (2020, September). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt31101/2019NSDUH-Hispanic/Hispanic%202019%20NSDUH.pdf

Ramirez, A., Gallion, K., Aguilar, R., & Swanson, J. (2017, November). The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. https://xrv281o3wvu1d29sd405vdf6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Early-Child-Dev-Res-Review.pdf

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Jessica Montalvo
Jessica Maria Montalvo has dedicated her life to the diverse field of education for over 19 years. She knows the importance of cultural inclusivity and diversity, equity, and inclusion as a part of what she stands for as not only an educator, but a life-long learner as well. Jessica is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Indiana University, and from Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne with her teaching Certification for Secondary Education. Later she earned a Master of Education from Indiana Wesleyan University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana Tech in the global leadership program. Her passion for service has translated to her involvement in creative projects which include roles within an original musical theater production about mental illness written by James Wesley Williams, since its full-cast production opening premiere in 2014. She is also a producer for the recent film short, Grummy. Her greatest work of art is when she became a mother in 2020 to her beautiful baby girl, Lara Juliana Montalvo.