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Hispanic Heritage Month mental health forum seeks to improve care in Latino communities

Mental health forum to focus on Latino community during Hispanic Heritage Month.

TOLEDO, Ohio — There is rich culture and diversity within the Latino community.

You can find art as well as information and photos about local and national leaders on display inside the Jose Martinez Art Gallery at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center in Toledo’s Old South End.

Credit: Paul Kwapik

Along with the successes of a community come challenges, some of which are still being overcome today. Language barriers and a lack of cultural understanding can exacerbate many issues, including treatment for mental health.

“Things haven’t really changed a lot from 1980 to 2022 with the same issues, and I think that maybe the hope is we’re going to strategize this a little differently,” Mental Health Advocate and University of Toledo Faculty Member Louie Guardiola said.

Guardiola stressed the importance of language and communication in accessing needed mental health care. 

“If you don’t have someone that speaks the language to help you interpret what your crisis is, what your wounds are, and what you’re trying to work on, then those changes aren’t going to happen," he explained. 

Guardiola said there are fewer than five Latinx therapists in northwest Ohio and none right now who are bilingual. He believes a long-term strategy needs to include collaboration to develop a workforce pipeline to fill the gaps.

RELATED: A Woodville family is on a mission to prevent suicide

Credit: Paul Kwapik

There is also a cultural stigma when it comes to seeking care. Guardiola said it’s more culturally acceptable to have an issue manifest in a physical condition rather than mental.

“Individuals who are Latino, Hispanic will go to their doctors for an illness really that might be related to mental health, depression, etc,” he said.

RELATED: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: NAMI encouraging people to bring their voices together to advocate for better mental health care

Guardiola will discuss these challenges and possible solutions during NAMI Greater Toledo’s 7th Annual Latino Leadership Initiative Forum on Tuesday October 11th. It is a free event and lunch will be provided.

To register, click here.


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