Daniel (Danny) Bejarano was diagnosed with depression,bipolar disorders and at the young age of 14 he had started hearing disembodied voices. Later having issues at home he was kicked out and lived on the streets for a year during his high-school years,feeling desperate Danny started getting into trouble like stealing cars so he could have a roof over his head at night.Very quickly Danny knew that his mental health was too much to handle on his own but did not know who he could seek help from. Feeling alone and lost at 22 now shutting himself out of his friends lives and isolating himself do his friends would not see how much pain he was in danny was finding it hard to even maintain friends because of how problematic his mental illnesses were becoming. Remaining silent about his pain and problems Danny attempted suicide then shortly after he turned to crime and went to prison for years. There he finally felt that he could express his mental health concerns without feeling judged, his friends that made did not push shame him for having these disorders but were thankful that he was still alive. Creating a very strong support group relating to other prisoners about feeling alone and scared when you feel that you’re helpless when trying to help yourself, this was a very big step in Danny accepting himself and wanting to get more help for his illness “… I would talk to them about what happened to me and how I suffered… it seemed that they understood more, they knew how I felt”. After getting out of prison Danny met a friend that related to him more than his friends he made while being locked up, Danny’s new friend gave him contact information for his psychiatrist. Just after three months from receiving help and guidance from his psychiatrist Danny began to see and feel a change “ he told me that there are ways to change. You can goto any heights you want if you work at it. I still suffer from depression, but now my actions are different. I no longer want to hurt myself or others.” Danny along with continuing with his therapist and in his take keeping on his medication he has new purpose and a new outlook on life “ It’s possible. Your life can change, simple, just by talking with someone…” Danny wants people go know that they are worth it and never look at it any differently.
According to the American foundation for suicide prevention (AFSP) in this country alone suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, nearly 44,965 Americans die each year to suicide and for every suicide there 25 attempts. A case study was done by in 2002 right after the tragic terrorist attack on the World trade center. There were over 2,180 participants in that lived in New York for this study,to understand the difference if any on mental health between races. They found that minorities did not have a greater chance of having a mental illnesses such as PTSD but did contract more severe symptoms than the whites. However also finding that other illnesses like panic attacks are twice as likely to be had by Puerto Ricans and African Americans, they explained this to be due to the fact that these races face more decriminalization. Finding that minorities such as Hispanics and Pacific islanders are more likely to report their negative life experiences but receive lower levels of social support than whites. There is very little to no support showing that one specific race or ethnicity suffers worse from mental health issues than the other, if we all suffer from mental health why is it still such a taboo for most cultures?
Taking into consideration the Hispanic culture, mental illnesses is usually seen as something that’s not even real or at least not a big deal. In an article by the Cleveland Clinic discussing how to overcome this taboo of mental health in the Latino community psychiatrists Diana Lorenzo MD says “Mental health issues have a stigma…Many Latinos would prefer to ignore these conditions over talking about them openly.” I do agree that it does have a stigma, but stating that Latinos prefer to ignore problems rather than discussing them does not seem accurate. In a article written by each mind matters a website providing awareness and information on mental health topics they present a Surgeon General report showing that 20% of Latinos showing psychological distress goto a physician while 10% goto a actual mental health specialist and when they received support about their mental health they utilize services more than non- Latinos. It’s not that the Latino community does not want to help one another with these challenges being mental illness, it could very possibly be they just don’t know how to or feel the shame for wanting to get information to get help on these issues. This may be a language barrier or the negative connotations it has, even when Latinos speak out help many of them do not receive care or treatments needed. Mental health America reports that 17.8% of the U.S population are estimated to be Hispanic or Latino and of those over 15% had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year.
Suicide rates for middle aged white men is more common than other genders and races but now at 15.1% of suicide attempts by teenage Latinas the numbers are growing fast,only 9.8% of their white peers, both female and male attempt taking their own life as teenagers. It is reported by salud america that this is higher than non-stop Hispanic white females and Hispanic males. Being that more than 1 out of 4 Latina high-schoolers report that they have thought about committing suicide. Awareness for mental health should start in the home, in the form of conversations and services, 8% of Latinos say their children have some for of access to mental health services opposed to 14% of white peers.
How can we help people that feel they can’t speak out with the problems they have especially regarding mental health? Understanding that we all battle with some form of mental health illness would be a good start, praising one another for reaching out to get help instead of shaming. If you take anything away from this let it be this mental health help and awareness takes many forms, talking to close friends and family, a therapist or psychiatrist even some schools have mental health services or any outreach programs online. Mental health does not look the same for everyone not does getting help for it.