What are the mental health disparities that Hispanics face? What are the challenges and barriers affecting Hispanic children and families and what proposed change in current social policies could impact Hispanic children and families?
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The first main issue many Hispanics face in mental health care is a language barrier. While for many physical ailments at least some types of diagnosis can be done primarily on the basis of laboratory tests and other physical findings, in mental health care, language is the predominant tool health care providers have available for diagnosis. This means that to supply adequate mental health care to those Hispanics who are not native speakers of English, there need to be mental health care providers with native or near-native fluency in Spanish.
Second, immigration status can serve as a barrier to access for mental health care. People who are in the United States illegally may fear deportation if they use health services. This means that problems such as addictions or other mental health issues, instead of being treated early, may not be caught until the sufferers have done harm to themselves or others, something that could be prevented by policies that separate out citizenship from health issues.
Finally, poverty can both be caused by and contribute to mental health issues. It is important that social policies create funding infrastructures that enable people with mental health issues to live in safe, monitored environments, where they can receive adequate medication and other therapies, whatever their incomes or immigration status.
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