Action 13 town hall highlights barriers Hispanics face in mental health care

Rita Garcia Image
Friday, October 7, 2022
Action 13 'Hispanics and Mental Health' town hall
Join ABC13's Rita Garcia as she explores the barriers to mental health facing our Hispanic and Latin American communities in our Action 13 town hall.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. You can reach Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada) and The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.

While mental health is a topic that impacts everyone, our Hispanic and Latin American communities face more barriers to both access to and quality of treatment.

Poverty, language, immigration status, acculturation and a lack of cultural competency among some mental health providers are just some of the reasons the nonprofit NAMI said Hispanic and Latin Americans aren't able to get the care they need.

Then, there's stigma and shame surrounding mental illness.

"We don't want to be labeled as the weak, as the locos or whatnot, and we don't really reach out, and we don't really talk about it," Ivan Sanchez, founder of the Houston Millennials networking group, said.

Thursday, Sanchez joined ABC13's Rita Garcia for an Action 13 town hall, highlighting disparities impacting the well-being of our Latin American and Hispanic communities.

After experiencing severe burnout while working for a U.S. representative in Congress four years ago, Sanchez said he would find himself bed-ridden for weeks.

"It's so harsh when you're actually in those situations that you want to disappear, and then people just tell you, 'get over it,'" Sanchez said.

According to NAMI, 35.1% of Hispanic and Latin American adults with mental illness receive treatment annually, compared to the U.S. average of 46.2%.

"In the Latino community, some of that could be related to the macho culture, that, for example, men don't look for help for mental illness," Dr. Cristian Zeni, with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, said.

Throughout Thursday's town hall, our panelists shared their own personal experiences with mental health, and the advocacy work each of them is doing to ensure people get the help they need.

We also highlighted mental health resources available for Hispanics and Latin Americans:

Call 911 in cases of immediate danger

The Harris Center - NeuroPsychiatric Center (MHMRA)

For those seeking help voluntarily

  • 1502 Taub Loop, in Houston
  • 713-970-7070

Ben Taub General Hospital

For those seeking help voluntarily

  • 1504 Taub Loop, in Houston
  • 713-793-2000
  • FLAS Behaviorial Health - 713-772-2366
  • NAMI Greater Houston Warmline - 713-970-4483
  • Harris Center Crisis Line - 713-970-7000, Option 1
  • Harris Co. Sheriff's Dept. Crisis Line - 713-221-6000
  • Fort Bend Co. Crisis Hotline - 800-633-5686
  • Montgomery Co. 24-Hour Crisis Hotline - 800-659-6994
  • Montgomery County - Para llamadas en Espanol - 888-628-9454

You can watch Thursday's town hall wherever you stream Eyewitness News on your TV, like Roku and Fire TV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."