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March 4, 2023

My Latinx Parents Didn’t Believe in Counseling

By Liz M.
, 19
, from Los Angeles, CA

Growing up in a Latinx household, mental health was never really talked about. It was seen as a weakness to seek help outside the family. Instead, we were taught to keep our problems to ourselves and to just tough it out. But as a young girl, I knew that something was off. I struggled with anxiety and depression, and it was affecting my daily life.

I remember feeling like I was drowning in my own thoughts and emotions, and I didn’t know how to cope. It wasn’t until I started college that my roommate noticed I was having a hard time and wasn’t getting better, so she took me to the campus mental health center. That’s when I discovered therapy, and it’s been a game-changer for me. But at first, I didn’t tell my parents I was seeing a counselor because I knew how they felt about it.

In many Latinx communities, mental health is stigmatized and not seen as a priority. Instead, it’s often viewed as a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. There is a lot of shame and embarrassment associated with seeking help for mental health issues, and it can be difficult to talk about it with family and friends.

I remember feeling hesitant to tell my family that I was going to therapy. I was worried that they would judge me or think less of me for seeking help. But I knew that I needed it, and I couldn’t let their opinions hold me back.

I quickly realized that it was one of the best decisions I had ever made for myself. My therapist helped me to understand my anxiety and depression and gave me tools to manage it.

Therapy helped me to see that seeking help was not a weakness, but rather a sign of strength. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you need help and to take the steps to get it. I learned that it’s okay to not have everything figured out and that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

As I continued to get counseling, I started to see changes in myself. I was more confident, more self-aware, and more in control of my emotions. I learned what was making me sad or anxious and how to work through that with my counselor. I knew that I was on the right path.

At school, therapy isn’t a big deal to most other students. Many of them talk about therapy openly, in a way I couldn’t imagine doing before I started college. But after a few months with my counselor, I became more comfortable talking about my experiences. 

Recently, I told my family the truth about my depression and anxiety, and the fact that I was seeing a counselor at school. At first they felt uncomfortable that I was telling a stranger what they considered private, because in our culture, everything stays in the family. But the more we talked about it, the more they came to understand that there was no shame in struggling or getting help.

Then the most unexpected thing happened. My mom started seeing a counselor herself! 

It was liberating to be able to talk openly about my mental health and to break down some of the stigma around seeking help, so much so that my mom now sees how helpful it is.

Breaking down the stigma around mental health in the Latinx community won’t happen overnight, but we can start by talking openly about our experiences and encouraging others to seek help when they need it. It’s time to change the narrative around mental health in our communities.

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