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COVID-19’s mental health impacts among communities of color

COVID-19’s mental health impacts among communities of color
Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:59:12-05

PHOENIX — We all have felt a sense of insecurity and stress during these uncertain times, but studies are showing there’s a higher percentage of Latinos battling mental health issues because of the pandemic.

“Sadly, I’ve been seeing a lot of out of lessons with anxiety and a lot of those with depression and suicidal thoughts,” said Martha Muñoz, a psychologist in Phoenix.

Muñoz says mental health issues due to the pandemic are hitting hard among Latinos.

“We’re struggling, including myself.”

She’s a trained counselor, but all her training didn’t prepare her for losing a friend to suicide.

“This person was retired already, because of the pandemic, she stopped going to the support groups, being alone for too long, no communication with her family because her family is in another state,” expressed Muñoz.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, African Americans and Latinos reported higher rates of symptoms of anxiety or depression.

A study by Commonwealth Fund shows Latinos, women and people with low income are at the highest risk of mental health concerns due to the pandemic.

The study says some of the barriers these communities face is having less access to health insurance, high co-pays, less options for nearby treatment and a lack of online mental health care, among others.

“The situation is what causes stress, but the biggest issue here is not having enough tools to overcome it,” said Teodora Mejia-Gaspar, a representative of Transqueer Pueblo, a local nonprofit.

Mejia-Gaspar directs a program designed to help women of color struggling with mental health through art and theater.

“We know art can heal. Unfortunately, admitting that we need mental health is still considered a taboo in our community,” said Mejia-Gaspar .

Muñoz says it’s important to not be afraid and reach out for help.

“Mental health exists, and we can’t deny what’s happening right now.”

If you need help and the situation needs immediate emergency assistance, call 911. They’re available 24 hours a day.

We have added a list of resources to help you if you’re going through a difficult time:

  • Bienvenido Community Solutions: The Bienvenido Program's mission is to improve the mental health and quality of life of immigrants through a nationwide network of facilitators that lead change through people, teach advocacy, and empower immigrants for service in community.