David Earl Johnson, LICSW

2 minute read

I tripped over a surprising bit of news over at Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments. Hispanic teens are suffering the highest rates of mental health and chemical health issues according to a recent CDC press release.

In the recent upsurge in interest regarding immigration issues, many Hispanics youths, who themselves are American citizens are being swept up in racism and ill-advised nationalism. No matter where you fall on the issues, the health of American citizens should be something that everyone can agree on. With upwards of 10 and 15% of Hispanic youths reporting attempted suicide, this survey should serve as a clear call to action. The issue is about children of Hispanic parents, a large proportion of their parents are Spanish speaking immigrants. This creates problems unique to Hispanic teens. MercuryNews.com

More than 11 percent of all Latino students — and 15 percent of Latino girls — said they had attempted suicide, according to the report issued Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The white and black rates were about 7.5 percent. Latinos also reported much higher rates of cocaine, heroin, “ecstasy” and methamphetamines use. Their use of condoms was at lower rates than the other groups. Local youth counselors say they are not surprised by the numbers. In all categories of high-risk behavior, including drug abuse and teen pregnancy, the proportion of Latino youths with problems is rising, they say. “Teen pregnancy has dropped overall, but among Latino youth it’s gone higher,” said Mario Ozuna-Sanchez, manager of intervention services for the Mexican American Community Service Agency in San Jose. “Latino youth are 70 percent of juvenile hall right now.” One reason, he said, is a lack of services targeted at Latino communities. “There’s not only a lack of services in general, there’s a lack of services in English and Spanish, services targeted toward parents,” Ozuna-Sanchez said. “Everyone knows the problem, but few people are addressing it.” We need to actively encourage training Hispanic practitioners. And we need to encourage therapists to develop bilingual skills to serve these under served families.

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