Latino children are far more likely than their peers to suffer depression and other mental health issues that go untreated, but innovative community and school solutions are emerging to promote healthy minds, according to a new research review from Salud America!, a national network for healthy change at UT Health San Antonio.
The Salud America! Mental Health & Latino Kids review examines the latest science on the state of mental health among Latino children, and shares policy recommendations.
A new video also summarizes the research.
The research shows 22 percent of Latino youth are depressed—a higher rate than any minority besides Native Americans—and endure much stress, discrimination, and bullying.
Fewer Latino children (8 percent) than white children (14 percent) have ever received mental health care.
Fortunately, several solutions are emerging, according to the research:
* Latino children have less stress and more classroom success in programs that mix regular physical activity with mental health education.
* Community-based, cultural interventions have shown promise in improving Latino children’s access to mental health care.
* School-based bullying prevention programs can decrease bullying by up to 25 percent.
“Despite the high rate of mental health issues faced by Latino children, disparities persist in how they use and receive mental health services,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., lead author of the research review. She is the director of Salud America! and the Institute for Health Promotion Research in the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.
“Latino and all children deserve communities and schools that equitably support healthy minds,” Dr. Ramirez said.
More than 38 percent of Latino children ages 2-19 have an unhealthy weight, compared to 28.5 percent of white youth and 35.2 percent of black youth.
This situation is compounded by issues of mental health.
The Mental Health & Latino Kids research review suggests policy and practice changes:
* Program leaders, school leaders and health care providers should ensure that mental health care for Latino children is sensitive to issues among this group. These issues include bullying, discrimination and other immigration-related factors.
* Providers should diversify the mental health workforce, expand culturally oriented training, and increase access to mental health care interpreters and promotoras.
* Schools and nonprofits should incorporate culturally relevant mental health programs.
In addition to the new research, Salud America! has Heathy Minds stories, tools, and actions to inspire people to drive healthy changes to improve mental health.
Access the full Salud America! “Mental Health & Latino Kids” research review at http://salud-america.org/healthymindsresearch.