Nav: Home

Mental health stigma, fueled by religious belief, may prevent latinos from seeking help

April 01, 2019

Religious and cultural beliefs may discourage many Latinos in the United States from seeking treatment for depression and other mental health disorders, a Rutgers University-New Brunswick study finds.

Mental health providers and researchers should therefore engage with faith-based organizations and other community venues to help them address the stigma associated with mental illness and to encourage people to seek help, said Susan Caplan, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing.

The study appears in the journal Hispanic Health Care International.

Latinos report experiencing mental health issues at about the same rates as white non-Hispanics in the United States, but they are only half as likely to seek treatment, largely due to stigma influenced by cultural and religious views, according to the study.

"Religious faith is an important source of strength for people who experience stress and mental illness," Caplan said. "But beliefs that mental illness is caused by sin or a lack of faith or that it can be cured by prayer alone can discourage people from seeking help, add to their suffering and even contribute to suicide."

While she was developing a mental health literacy and engagement program for faith-based settings, Caplan surveyed Latin American members of three churches in the northeastern United States about the ways their religious and cultural values influence their beliefs about mental illness.

Many respondents recalled growing up in communities where mentally ill people were ostracized and where families refused to talk about mental illness or even acknowledge it might exist within their family. Many expressed the belief that depression and other disorders were caused by a lack of faith or prayer, the influence of evil spirits or a parent's wrongful actions.

On the other hand, some recognized that attributing suicide to a lack of faith is stigmatizing and can prevent people with depression from seeking help. One pastor shared the story of a respected Christian and Native American leader who suffered from depression, felt unable to talk with anyone partly due to fears of discrimination, and committed suicide.

The study concluded that efforts to encourage Latin Americans' to get mental health treatment should begin with a deeper understanding of cultural and religious factors that may prevent them from getting help.
-end-


Rutgers University

Related Depression Articles:

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.
Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.
CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Post-natal depression in dads linked to depression in their teenage daughters
Fathers as well as mothers can experience post-natal depression -- and it is linked to emotional problems for their teenage daughters, new research has found.
Being overweight likely to cause depression, even without health complications
A largescale genomic analysis has found the strongest evidence yet that being overweight causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems.
Don't let depression keep you from exercising
Exercise may be just as crucial to a depression patient's good health as finding an effective antidepressant.
Having an abortion does not lead to depression
Having an abortion does not increase a woman's risk for depression, according to a new University of Maryland School of Public Health-led study of nearly 400,000 women.
Mother's depression might do the same to her child's IQ
Roughly one in 10 women in the United States will experience depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Teenage depression linked to father's depression
Adolescents whose fathers have depressive symptoms are more likely to experience symptoms of depression themselves, finds a new Lancet Psychiatry study led by UCL researchers.
Anxiety and depression linked to migraines
In a study of 588 patients who attended an outpatient headache clinic, more frequent migraines were experienced by participants with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
More Depression News and Depression Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.