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NC Health Center Aims to Reduce Mental-Health Stigma Among Latinos


Thursday, July 28, 2022   

Stigma around mental health and a lack of resources available in Spanish means many individuals in North Carolina's Latino community are going without needed resources.

Camino Health Center wants to change the situation, and is launching an effort to spread the word about Spanish-speaking therapists and counselors available to residents in the Charlotte region.

Dr. Carolina Benitez, director of the Behavioral Health Clinic at Camino Health Center, said language is the number one barrier Latino residents face.

"I know that the number of therapists who can speak Spanish will are fully bilingual is small," Benitez observed. "That is actually a great need within this community and actually throughout the state."

Research shows although the nation's Hispanic population is increasing, the number of mental-health facilities offering treatment in Spanish declined by more than 17% between 2014 and 2019, across 44 states.

North Carolina has seen its Latino population soar over the past decade to more than one million, which includes individuals born in the U.S. and immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Benitez added financial and other obstacles often accompanying immigration to the U.S. can contribute to depression and anxiety in this population.

"Issues with documentation status will affect transportation needs (and) will also affect health access to health insurance, sustainable work," Benitez outlined.

She encouraged residents to seek help by contacting the center at 704-596-5606.

"We will be happy to connect them with a social navigator who can help them understand more about our services, understand more about the situation that they're in and the resources that are available to them," Benitez explained.

According to the Hispanic Research Center, more than one third of Latino families have experienced a mental-health disorder, including depression, anxiety, substance misuse or PTSD.

Support for the mental-health awareness campaign comes from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the American Heart Association.

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