If you grow up in a Latino household, you already know that therapy doesn’t exist from your parent’s point of view. Maybe that’s not entirely true, but it’s increasingly common to hear people say this. Most Latinos have been raised to be the “strongest” or the one who doesn’t cry in front of anyone. A Latino mom would say to you, “I’ll give you something to cry about.”
The Latino community has a barrier to mental health due to the stigma attached to it. If one decides to go to therapy, words like “crazy” or dramatic are often used to describe you. Any show of weakness is a double-edged sword, as parents can use that to hurt you through teasing or simply ignoring you. Our generation today has been more open and aware of the mental illnesses/issues that have been experienced by previous generations. We have been breaking that stigma of what our parents considered “dramatic.” We became aware of our parents’ lack of knowledge and decided to take matters into our own hands.
However, going back to the main point, why don’t Latino/Hispanic parents believe in therapy or mental health? Their generation was based on protecting themselves and being the strongest wherever they were. Always working and giving the best for the home. There were no moments for weakness. Their generation grew up quickly, having children at a young age without realizing the magnitude of what it took to become a parent. They had to stop being children to take care of other children. Between wars, the army, the economy, and the change in civilization, all these “unstable” factors were passed down from generation to generation until they reached our parents. They grew up seeing their families’ strength despite adversity, and they never stopped thinking about their mental health. It wasn’t their priority. They were raised to be strong and useful to society. And that’s when we arrive. Our generation had a more stable society than our parents had and technology, allowed us to break the stigma gradually. We saw the emotional exhaustion of our parents reflected in their attitudes and we decided to make that change.
Our change is not only for us but for our parents and grandparents. We consciously communicate without prejudice or stigma, because we see their pain. This pain unconsciously transferred to us, but it does not mean that we cannot stop it. We don’t have to be strong, or “you can’t cry because you’re a boy,” or any other comment/prejudice we’ve all experienced.
It’s not our parent’s fault that they don’t believe in therapy, they’ve only defended and protected themselves for as long as they can remember. Recognizing mental health saves lives, raises awareness, and helps break that cycle of being the strong one at all times.
Here are a few resources that can be helpful: