Things That Matter

There Is A Growing Database That Is Connecting Latinos With Culturally Competent Therapists

For many Latinos, mental health still carries a very real and very scary stigma. The statistics support this as there are an estimated 8.9 million Latino people in the U.S. that live with a diagnosable mental illness, but only 10 percent of Latinos with a mental health disorder seek mental health treatment. The disparity comes from several factors including lack of culturally competent therapists and high health care costs. Brandie Carlos knows firsthand about dealing with depression and the stigma Latinos sometimes face when seeking help for mental health issues. That was enough motivation for Carlos, a web designer, to create Therapy For Latinx, an online database that helps Latinos find mental health professionals in their own communities.

Therapy for Latinx is a website dedicated to helping Latinos find “culturally competent” therapists in their own communities.

Creator Brandie Carlos found herself lost in February 2017 when one of her best friends died by suicide. She was frustrated when she couldn’t find a therapist who spoke Spanish and understood her culturally.

“I tried seeking Latino therapy but nothing came up,” Carlos says. “It was when found out about a Black therapy database I thought to myself, ‘Why not a Latino version of this?'”

She put her website design skills to use and launched Therapy for Latinx this May. The website currently has over 65 Latino mental health practitioners in it’s directory and features a blog that highlights first-person stories of mental illness from a Latino perspective.

“I didn’t have a metal health or psychological background,” Carlos explains. “All I wanted was to focus on user friendliness when creating a website that would help people find these resources.”

Carlos argues that mental health needs to be talked about more, especially within Latino households.

According to the American Psychological Association, 50 percent of Latinos don’t return to a psychologist after the first session which may be due to the language and cultural barriers. Carlos says it also has to due with stigmas and taboos in the Latino household when seeking mental help.

“I personally grew up depressed and under a Catholic family where things like mental health and depression weren’t talked about,” Carlos says. “You are either called a ‘Loca’ or crazy when you express a need for self-care.”

About 1 percent of U.S. psychologist practitioners identify as Latino, which shows the lack of cultural competency one may find when seeking help. Additionally suicide rates among Latino girls (grades 9–12) are 50 percent higher than suicide rates among white girls of the same age group.

Therapy for Latinx is helping connect Latinos to mental health services they never knew existed.

Carlos hopes the website grows beyond just a database but a nationwide resource for minorities to find help and seek information on mental health. There are plans to start a mentorship program to help more people of color (POC) be involved in the industry to help their communities.

“Once I started working on making things more accessible, I realized this is about social justice as well,” Carlos said. “As Latinos we’re incredibly underserved and I want to see these new mentors serve POCs.”

According to Carlos, one community that is heavily underserved are undocumented immigrants. This community has faced psychological attacks because of their immigration status and the current immigration debate in the U.S.

“We’ve had many people ask for help concerning immigration and LGBTQ services,” Carlos says. “We are always trying to grow our voice and help these marginalized groups find resources.”

The website is just a start in addressing mental health and the beginning of a larger discussion when it comes to Latinos and their mental health.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Mental Health America

Therapy for Latinx is growing at a fast rate, Carlos says its Instagram has averaged around 1500 new users a month, and wants to spread its services beyond just a database. Carlos hopes to have health workshops throughout the country and has already began planning a mental health event in Los Angeles. While there is still a ways to go in having more Latino health professionals reach the number of Latinos in the U.S., Carlos sees the discussion of mental health growing into a bigger conversation.

“When you’ve grown up speaking Spanish, it’s part of your identity. When a therapist speaks your language it makes a huge difference,” Carlos says. “It means a lot of Latinos are going to thrive without these cultural barriers stopping them.”


READ: 20 Famous Latinos Who’ve Publicly Dealt With Mental Illness

Have you personally dealt with mental health issues?  Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below!

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Causing Us Unprecedented Stress, Here Are 9 Techniques To Help You Relax

Things That Matter

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Causing Us Unprecedented Stress, Here Are 9 Techniques To Help You Relax

So, Mental Health Awareness month has come just as pretty much of all us are having to face a strange world of Coronavirus fears, lockdown anxiety, loneliness, and boredom. With all that we are having to face right now I can’t think of a better time to visit some much-needed tips on how to deal with stress.

Obviously, stress is inevitable, but too much stress can negatively impact your mood, relationships, sleep routine, and even how your body functions. And given that we are living in such uncertain times, I think it’s fair to say we’re all facing a bit more stress than normal.

If you’re trying to figure out how to best manage your stress, there are some therapist-approved tips ahead.

1. Practice Tolerating Uncertainty

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study during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic showed that people who had a harder time accepting the uncertainty of the situation were more likely to experience elevated anxiety.

The solution is to learn to gradually face uncertainty in daily life by easing back on certainty-seeking behaviors. 

Start small: Don’t text your friend immediately the next time you need an answer to a question. Go on a hike without checking the weather beforehand. As you build your tolerance-of-uncertainty muscle, you can work to reduce the number of times a day you consult the internet for updates on the outbreak.

2. Tackle the Anxiety Paradox

Credit: Abraham Alvarez / Flickr

Anxiety rises proportionally to how much one tries to get rid of it.

Struggling against anxiety can take many forms. People might try to distract themselves by drinking, eating or watching Netflix more than usual. They might repeatedly seek reassurance from friends, family or health experts. Or they might obsessively check news streams, hoping to calm their fears. Although these behaviors can help momentarily, they can make anxiety worse in the long run. Avoiding the experience of anxiety almost always backfires. 

Instead, allow your anxious thoughts, feelings and physical sensations to wash over you, accepting anxiety as an integral part of human experience

3. Center Yourself When Anxiety Hits

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If you feel your anxiety levels rising, the first thing to do is take a couple of deep breaths. This is a simple technique to calm yourself and engage the parts of your brain that deal with focus, memory, and problem-solving (your prefrontal cortex). From there, it’s recommended to bring your awareness to your feet or “feeling your feet,” a mindfulness exercise that will “literally ground you.”

4. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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If you’re feeling stressed, Jessie Bohnenkamp, LPC, NCC, founder of Plum Counseling and Wellness, recommends trying a technique called progressive muscle relaxation. “Often, when we’re feeling stressed, we tense up parts of our body, which then sends signals to our brain that we’re unsafe and need to be on guard for danger,” she states on her website.

To counteract this, lie on your back, or in a comfortable position, and starting with your toes, focus on fully relaxing each muscle group, or body part, moving slowly up your body as you let all of the tension drain away.

5. Strengthen Self-Care

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During these anxiety-provoking times, it’s important to remember the tried-and-true anxiety prevention and reduction strategies. Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature and employ relaxation techniques when stressed. 

Prioritizing these behaviors during the coronavirus crisis can go a long way toward increasing your psychological well being and bolstering your immune system.

6. Stretch Every Day

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Stretching isn’t just reserved for runners and people who lift weights. Dr. Tasha Holland-Kornegay, PhD, LPC, founder of Wellness IRL, a platform to reduce healthcare provider burnout, recommends stretching daily to help relieve stress and relax.

While it may seem like a lot of work, you can simply stand in a doorway and try to stretch your arms apart, trying to reach the upper sides of the doorframe. Hold for 90 seconds and then release. These simple exercises will entice the nervous system and boost your energy,” according to Holland-Kornegay.

7. Limit Social Media and the News

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OK, it’s hard but you should really only be using social media to stay in touch with friends and family when you might start to feel isolated. If you’re like me and use Facebook and Twitter to also get your news, then be smart about it. Follow a few verified news outlets that you trust, as well as the Center For Disease Control and the World Health Organization, for news that’s accurate and up to date. It’s fine to unfollow or block sources that are only causing you anxiety. 

It’s also really good practice to only allow yourself certain times of the day to check your news feeds and social media.

8. Establish A Routine

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Ok, so this one is really hard for me. I’m someone who is always rebelling against routine but it can be a huge help in times like these. Having a daily routine gives you sense of structure that can really be vital for managing emotional stress during uncertain times.

Decide what your priorities are right now and set boundaries between different activities, especially if you’re transitioning to a work-from-home setup. Remembering to take time to exercise, eat well, connect with people you care about, and do simple things that bring you joy is also foundational to maintaining your emotional resilience under pressure.

9. Talk To Yourself About Yourself

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Yea, this one might take some getting used to but it can really help. According to Jason Moser, PhD, director of Michigan State University’s clinical psychophysiology lab, “Third-person self-talk can be used across the board as you’re anticipating a stressful event, as you’re feeling anxiety in the moment, or when you’re dealing with something that caused stress and anxiety in the past, like rejection or failure.”

To self-talk, all you have to do is talk to yourself about the stressful event in the third-person, Dr. Moser explains. For example, you could ask yourself a series of questions. “When you’re using your own name, the brain switches to another mode as if you’re talking to someone else. In a nutshell, what happens is that you’re creating a psychological distance between you and the issue you’re facing.”

Headspace Is The Mental Health App Offering Free Subscriptions To Unemployed U.S. Workers

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Headspace Is The Mental Health App Offering Free Subscriptions To Unemployed U.S. Workers

Headspace.com

Right now mental health and mindfulness are so key. As we face so much uncertainty and stress in our everyday lives with the everyday reports of the current pandemic, keeping ourselves mentally in check is vital.

Fortunately, the meditation and mindfulness app Headspace is providing free one-year subscriptions to U.S. workers who are unemployed or have been furloughed. The free offer allows qualifying subscribers full access to Headspace’s library of content which features 1,200 hours of health and wellness courses, mini-meditations, guided meditations, sleep support as well as at-home workouts and guided runs. Subscribers also have access to daily videos promoting mindfulness and ongoing guidance from Headspace’s co-founder Andy Puddicombe.

The offer is currently only available to new or existing free members who are unemployed or furloughed.

Current subscribers, who pay $69.99 annually after a free two-week trial, will not have a chance to take up the opportunity, unfortunately. Monthly payments include $12.99 a month and amended prices for students and family are available.

“Be kind to your mind. During this crisis, our mental health is suffering,” a statement by Headspace reason their website. “Headspace is here to give you the tools and resources to look after your mind. And now, more than ever, it’s time to support those who really need it. If you’re unemployed, you can get a free year of Headspace Plus to help you get back on your feet.”

LA Country residents also have an opportunity to leap at when it comes to the app.

The L.A. County Department of Mental Health announced in late April that it had formed a partnership with the L.A.-based company to offer residents free premium access to app until the end of the year. The website will check your location to make sure you qualify. To sign up, just go here  Headspace.com/LACounty. The new partnership is a the latest effort to come from the County Mental Health Department’s response to coronavirus.

“Managing radical change over a short period of time can be difficult and may trigger anxiety, panic, frustration, and depression,” the department explained in a recent press release. “Taking the time to care for your physical and mental health is especially important right now.”

The best part? Spanish-speakers will also have access to guided meditations that are provided in both English and Spanish.

“The world is an increasingly stressful place these days, and amid the uncertainty of this public health crisis, it’s crucial to provide support and equip people with the tools to help decrease stress, anxiety, and loneliness,” Headspace’s chief science officer explained about the partnership.

Trying out the app? Let us know how it goes in a comment below!