Older Hispanic Adults and Mental Health – Social&Family Issues Example

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"Older Hispanic Adults and Mental Health" is a perfect example of a paper on social and family issues. Quite a number of researches by scholars and professionals reveal that official mental health services are underused by almost all cultures, races, genders, socioeconomic statuses, and ethnicities. However, in countries with widespread cultural pluralism such as the United States of America, minority races and ethnic groups are less likely to utilize mental health services compared to their White counterparts. Specifically, in the U. S., Whites are found to receive more mental health treatment than African Americans and Hispanics do, more so those living in rural areas (Cowdery et al. , 2010).

These inequalities have consequently been the focus of a lot of studies in recent times for the purposes of developing research and health policies and educational programs for both health care professionals and target communities. Older Hispanics’ Beliefs and Attitudes towards Mental Health                       Several factors have been identified to explain the apparent disparity in mental health service accessibility and utilization by older Hispanic adults. Generally, these factors present themselves as a mixture of religious coping, attitudes, and beliefs and mental health attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.

There are three main reasons for which the relationships among religious beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors on one hand and mental health care on the other, are important in studying their influence on mental health service utilization and accessibility. First, these relationships are critical in providing much-needed information on the apparent pattern of mental health service under-utilization among older Hispanic adults. Second, this relationship could be important in explaining mental resilience in some minority races and ethnicities such as African Americans.

Third, the relationship between religious and cultural beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and mental health service accessibility and utilization helps in the designing and development of the most appropriate and effective interventions, policies, and educational programs that would increase the accessibility and utilization of mental health services among older Hispanic adults (Vazquez & Rosa, 2011). In many studies done in rural and urban settings among older Hispanic adults, it has been qualitatively established that older Hispanic adults’ perceptions, behaviors, and attitudes towards the usefulness and importance of mental health services are closely linked with and affect service accessibility and utilization (Brink, 1992).

  A close relationship has also been established between Hispanic adults’ mental health service attitudes and intent to utilize services. Race and ethnicity have hence been established as predictors of attitudes and perceptions towards mental health treatment accessibility and utilization. Worse still, in cases where racial-ethnic minority groups manage to access treatment, they receive less and poorer-quality treatment than non-Hispanic White adults. Misconceptions and personal beliefs associated with depression among older Hispanic adults are among the predictors of attitudes toward mental health services.

According to recent studies, negative attitudes among older Hispanics tend to increase as one advance in age. For instance, older Hispanic adults believe that depression and other mental illnesses would disappoint their families while therapies such as counseling would result in feelings of sadness and anger (Rogler et al. , 1990). Suggestions are thus rife for interventions that would promote the development of positive attitudes to mental health services and address misconceptions and negative personal beliefs in older Hispanics. Besides religious Hispanic religious and cultural issues, it is worth noting that Hispanic or Latino communities are composed of people of different nationalities, races, socioeconomic, educational backgrounds (Finlayson et al. , 2005).

The only common thread for these Latino groups is the Spanish language and cultural values. During health crises, older Hispanics are more likely to seek help from their community, extended families, traditional healers, and/ or local churches or religious groups and leaders. Consequently, many older Hispanics suffering from mental illness habitually go without professional mental health treatment. Conclusion That older Hispanic adults require more effective interventions to address their mental health problems is rather obvious due to the disparities in mental health care accessibility and utilization.

The PEN-Model Cultural Framework and community-based participatory research principles are some of the highly recommended strategies to handle the culture-specific negative attitudes, misconceptions, and behaviors towards mental health services.    


Brink, T. (1992). Hispanic aged mental health, first edition. Routledge.

Cowdery, J. E., Shandowyn, P., Amy, T. (2010). "Application of the PEN-3 Model in a Diabetes Prevention Intervention," Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, 4(1). Retrieved on August 3, 2012 from http://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/jhdrp/vol4/iss1/3

Finlayson, M., Gonzalez, M. J., and Gonzalez-Ramos, G. M. (2005) Mental health care for new Hispanic immigrants: innovative approaches in contemporary clinical practice, first edition. Routledge.

Rogler, L. H., Malgady, R. G., and Rodriguez, O. (1990). Hispanics and mental health: a framework for research, original edition. Krieger Publishing Company.

Vazquez, C., and Rosa, D. (2011). Grief therapy with Latinos: integrating culture for clinicians, first edition. Springer Publishing Company.

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