Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Seeking Help

On Monday actor and comedian Robin Williams passed away at the age of 63. Authorities in California mentioned today that Williams apparently committed suicide by hanging himself at his home.

Despite Williams’ humorous contributions in films like “Aladdin” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” as well as TV sitcoms “Mork & Mindy” and “The Crazy Ones”, his publicist admitted that he had been battling severe depression and had been seeking treatment for it. (So far it’s unknown if depression played any factor at all into Williams’ death).

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, (NAMI), depression affects Latinos more than any other ethnic group in the U.S.  Within the Latino community, the organization found that Latinas along with U.S. born and long-term residents are especially vulnerable to depression.  Furthermore, a study published this year concluded that “idea of acculturation, of navigating different cultural contexts” could explain why Latinos are particularly susceptible to depression.

Many Latinos unfortunately fail to seek help due to several factors including the cultural stigma attached to mental illness and the lack of Spanish-speaking and Latino mental health care specialists.

“When Latinos think of mental illness, they just think one thing: loco,” said Clara Morato, the mother of a child who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 18.  “[Latinos] don't want to be labeled, and they don't want to be labeled as the family with a relative who's crazy,” she added.

As a young Latino who had trouble facing his own mental demons many years ago I fully understand the crushing anxiety of loneliness and believing that there was nothing that could be done.  Yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel and better days can lie ahead with the aid of friend, loved ones and mental health care professionals.

If you or anyone you know may be suffering from depression, please know that you can seek help without fear of shame or embarrassment. 

Si usted sufre de depresión o conzces alguien afectado por la depresión por favor tenga en mente que puedes solicitar ayuda sin miedo de pena o humillación.

Video Source – National Institute of Mental Health via YouTube

Online Sources – Suicide Prevention Hotline (English and Spanish); CNN; Latin Post; BBC News; National Alliance of Mental Illness

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