Voices Latino Issue

NEW YORK CITYVOICES: January/March 2004

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From the Editor:

The following articles give us a taste of what mental health means to the Latino community.

The word Latino has several definitions. Among them is: related to or derived from the people or culture of Spain.

There are many subgroups of Latino. In New York City alone, we have representation from Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and South America. Each of these groups has different histories, different political relationships to the U.S., different genetics, and fundamentally different cultures.

It is known that these groups speak different dialects of Spanish. Is there anything in common besides core language among these different peoples? I am afraid that is one of the questions you will not have completely answered in our Latino Mental Health section. But you will learn about the situation for consumers in Uruguay and Mexico. You will hear from two people who try to explain what mental health means to the Latina. We also have a clinical psychologist who speaks from her experience working very closely with Latino peoples in New York City.

I hope you are able to enjoy what we have. Let's try to expand our minds on the Latino experience in mental healthcare.

My Experiences Led Me to Be What I Am
By JENNIE AYALA
"When I am asked how I would encourage others in their recovery, I say: 'You have to learn to help yourself and you have to have the will to want to get where you want to go.'"

Being Latina with Mental Illness
By BESS GARCIA
"[Families] might believe that [mental illness] may be a bad spirit in the house, a fault in the way the person was raised, drugs, a weakness in character.[rather] than something that came out of thin air with no warning sign or reason."

Some Reflections on Latino Mental Health
By ANA L. LAGUZZI, Psy.D.
".mental health providers have to show sincere understanding and respect for [Latino] culture and for the socioeconomic problems that they often face."

Demanding Human Rights for the Mentally Ill
By HUMBERTO L. MARTINEZ, M.D.
"The majority of people remain in [the Granjas] for a year or more, often for a lifetime...Little or no effort is made to promote reintegration into the community."

We Must Learn From the Gay and Latino Communities
By ERIC JACKSON

"To say 'I am mentally ill' is oftentimes a curse that stigmatizes and demeans you to the level of a second class citizen or worse.."

NAMI-NYC Metro Addresses Cultural Sensitivity
By DAVID C. KAPLAN
"Latinos were ashamed of mental illness and saw it as a curse ...
many Chinese believe that mental illness is caused by spirit possession, to be combated using herbs"

Councilwoman Margarita Lopez on the Issues
By ERIC JACKSON

"The State is planning to put a piece of legislation that is going to destroy the psychosocial clubs, the clinics, the entire network that we have created in the mental health system in the city."

 

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