Testing the severity of barriers to access of mental health services in the Latino community

Mental health is a vital part of a person’s overall wellbeing. Many studies have identified the types of barriers Latinos face when accessing mental health services but there is little information about the severity of the barriers. The purpose of this study is to explore Latinos’ perceptions of barriers to mental health treatment in Monterey County and to examine whether cultural stigma or access inequalities present more of a barrier. A quantitative descriptive research design for this study and the study population was composed of 40 survey participants of Latino background in Monterey County. Findings suggest Latinos are more likely to seek advice from a partner, friend, or a family member before consulting with a mental health professional. Latinos were greatly influenced by familismo and spirituality, therefore use family and religion during emotional times. Results from this study indicate there is a difference between the respondents’ personal stigma towards mental illness and their perception of stigma from their community. Latinos in this study were likely to trust and accept a person who has a history of mental health issues but believed the community did not. Improving access to mental health care among Latinos in Monterey County is suggested by addressing perceived stigma of the community. Additionally, it is recommended to promote affordable treatments, hire bilingual staff, and adjust hours of operation of mental health services in the community.