Ponte Las Pilas: Taking Charge of Your Mental Health
Noemi Rodriguez tackles the taboo subject of Mental Health in the Latinx Community.
Let’s play a word association game.
What's the first thing you think of when you read the following words. Ready?
For most of growing up in the Latinx culture, these words often come with bad and shameful
connotations. Why is that? Why is something that is so important, so taboo? Growing up, I never really had any conversations about mental health. In fact, I didn’t really even know what it was. In most Latinx families and cultures, talking about emotions is something that is kept in private. We do not air out dirty laundry.
There are misconceptions in the culture that having poor mental health is a sign of being weak, ungrateful, or even insane. As a result, as a community are less likely to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses.
We also struggle to recognize the need for help, and don’t know the resources available to us. The connection between our emotions and behavior is often misunderstood. The truth, however, is that our mental health affects not only our emotions and thoughts, but but also how we behave, respond to stress, and engage with others and our community.
What exactly is mental health, and why is it important?
Mental health is a combination of emotional, psychological, and social well being that affects our overall health. In fact, it is so fundamental that the World Health Organization states “The promotion, protection and restoration of mental health can be regarded as a vital concern of individuals, communities and societies throughout the world.” There are multiple facets impacting our mental health, such as social, psychological and biological factors. As Latinas we are exposed to extra factors such as immigration, acculturation, racism, or a sense of family responsibility that is often a part of our culture. When we don’t prioritize our mental health, we aren’t giving ourselves the tools needed to live nuestras vidas to the best of our ability.
There are many things we can do to promote mental wellness.
Here are just a few examples!
1. Self Care - This can be as simple as watching your favorite movie with a pint of ice
cream, working on a hobby, or doing something you truly enjoy.
2. Live Healthy - Focus on fueling your body properly, getting enough sleep, meditation,
3. Stay Connected - Connect with yourself, your friends, or others. Chances are there is
someone you know who has or has had similar experiences! Remember you are never
4. Learn More - Educate yourself on mental health and mental illnesses. There are plenty of
resources out there. Specifically, you can check out the websites for National Alliance on
Mental Illness and Mental Health America for information on mental health statistics in
Latinx communities and for Spanish language resources and materials.
5. Ask for Help - If you feel like your mental health needs professional guidance, don't be afraid to reach out. Use resources like the Crisis Text Line or therapyforlatinx.com to find
a culturally competent provider. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as “How do you
see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment?” After
all, they are here for YOU.
If you skimmed this whole post, there’s one thing I want you to take away.
By taking care of our souls, we are better able to work productively, make meaningful relationships and connections, and realize our full potential as powerful Latina women. So girl... what are you waiting for?! Ponte las pilas, and take charge of your mental health!