Get Help Today Call Your Local Mental Health Center

Top 5 Reasons Latinos do not Seek Help for Serious Mental Illness

Top 5 Reasons Latinos do not Seek Help for Serious Mental Illness
July 12, 2016 LaCLAve

La CLAve, a mental health campaign aimed at encouraging Latinos to seek early treatment for serious mental illness, highlights some of the key reasons that prevent Latinos from seeking treatment for a serious mental illness. July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and La CLAve is taking the opportunity to show Latinos how to identify the signs of a serious mental illness so they know when to seek help for their loved ones. The sooner mental illness is treated, the better the outcome.

“The symptoms of mental illness are not likely to simply go away on their own without treatment, which is why it is critical people seek help before there is a crisis,” said Dr. Steven R. Lopez, director of La CLAve. “People often dismiss signs of mental illness as temporary signs of stress. That is why we want to encourage open discussions among Latino families and help them be able to identify the first signs of serious mental illness.”

The following are some of the Top 5 reasons that prevent Latinos from seeking help:

  1. Not Knowing the Signs of Serious Mental Illness

Most Latinos don’t know how to identify the signs of a serious mental illness and often believe the signs are temporary and will go away with time. La CLAve was developed as a mnemonic device to help Spanish-speakers identify the signs of a serious mental illness in their loved ones. Each letter in the word CLAve stands for a symptom that is associated with the factors of serious mental illness. People should seek immediate help if they know anyone displaying any of the following symptoms:

C False beliefs or delusions/Creencias falsas o ideas delirantes

L Disorganized speech/Lenguaje desorganizado

A Hallucinations/Alucinaciones. Two examples of hallucinations are the following:

V Seeing things that others do not see/Ver cosas que otros no ven

E Hearing sounds or voices others do not hear/Escuchar sonidos o voces que otros no escuchan


  1. Limited Access to Language and Culturally Competent Medical Providers

Although great strides are being made to meet the medical needs of our diverse communities, much is still yet to be done. Most government funded institutions already offer language-access services but many Latinos are not aware they can ask for an interpreter, which is available at no cost.

  1. Lack of Health Insurance

More than 25 percent of Latinos do not have health insurance, which prevents them from seeking help for a mental health condition. The San Fernando Mental Health Center in Granada Hills offers low cost services to residents in Los Angeles County and can be reached by calling (818) 832-2400.

  1. Faith or Spiritual Beliefs

Religion or spirituality are helpful healing practices but at times may prevent an individual from seeking medical treatment. For example, the advice of loved ones to leave “the problem in the hands of God” may in reality just prevent a person from seeking early treatment, and in turn, worsen their condition.

  1. Stigma

The stigma associated with mental illness often prevents Latinos from seeking help. In Spanish, there are two commonly used terms to describe a person with mental illness, “trastornado” (deranged) or “loco” (crazy). From fear of having loved ones being labeled as “loco” they often delay getting much needed treatment at the onset of the illness.

La CLAve, a mental health outreach campaign managed by the University of Southern California, is helping families in the San Fernando, Sylmar, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hills and Sun Valley area to identify the signs of serious mental illness and promptly seek professional care. For more information visit or call the San Fernando Mental Health Center at (818) 832-2400 for mental health services. Follow La CLAve on Facebook and Twitter.