Nearly 30% of San Diego County residents identify as Latino. Although they experience mental health issues at the same rate as other populations, cultural stigma and other barriers may limit access to necessary mental health treatment.
As a member of the Latino community himself, Dr. Joseph Minick understands the stigma surrounding discussions of sadness or anxiety.
"When it comes to addressing our mental health, we put our heads down and get the job done for ourselves, but more importantly for our family," says Dr. Minick, medical director of the Spanish cognitive intensive outpatient therapy program at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital.
To better support the region's Spanish-speaking residents, Sharp Mesa Vista recently launched a new cognitive therapy program entirely in Spanish.
"We need to support each other in seeking treatment for our mental health and stop suffering in silence," says Dr. Minick.
Breaking the barriers
Patients who access Sharp Mesa Vista's new cognitive therapy program will find their entire care experience available in Spanish — from initial consultations and one-on-one meetings with a doctor, to supporting documents and group sessions.
The program aims to break down barriers that the Latino community faces when addressing mental health issues. Some of these barriers include:
- Coping with mental health issues by seeking advice from family, friends or spiritual advisers and not seeking help from mental health professionals.
- Lack of understanding and knowledge regarding mental health, which increases the stigma associated with mental illness.
- Uncertainty in how to access services for themselves or their loved ones.
- Language, as many providers do not speak Spanish and may not understand some of the cultural issues important to Latinos.
According to the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, more than a quarter of Hispanics/Latinos report high levels of symptoms of depression, with only 5% getting proper treatment.
When these feelings begin to alter quality of life, seeking treatment and getting needed support can improve daily functioning and help stabilize the patient.
Cognitive therapy is a focused therapy for a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, anger, loneliness, obsessive-compulsive tendencies and trauma. It can include individual sessions with a mental health doctor as well as group sessions with other patients enrolled in the program.
"Our team works with patients to identify the emotions and behaviors that are affecting daily life, and help guide people in practicing coping techniques to support healthier responses to the cause," says Dr. Minick.
This outpatient program allows patients to balance treatment with regular life responsibilities in an intensive short-term program with long-lasting results, he says. For example, sessions are offered in the late afternoon or evening to accommodate dayshift work schedules.
"We feel honored to open this program to the Latino community and offer this support in Spanish for those in need," says Minick.
To learn more or to request an assessment for Sharp Mesa Vista's cognitive therapy program in Spanish, please call 858-836-8459.