In a recent HBNS research news story, from a study in the journal, General Hospital Psychiatry, we reported that stigma prevents many Latinos from receiving treatment from depression. The study points out that many Latinos prefer to handle personal problems or concerns privately and may resist seeking treatment.
I asked my daughter, who lives in Mexico, to help me with the Latino version of the slang word blues. She said Well, there isn't one. Maybe they would say they feel bad. But there is nothing like an everyday common word that describes feeling down.
What a simple and powerful example of just how easy it is to miss the subtle nuances that exist in different cultures. Many of us Anglos have become so familiar with our blues and moods that we forget the years of changes in social norms that have brought us to using emoticons like a smiley or a frown as routine punctuation marks and making anti-depressants the most commonly prescribed drug in the US.
The findings in this article also raise interesting questions about health care in a country in which Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 34 million people aged 5 or older. How much of a difference do cultural definitions of mental states, particularly, influence how and when we seek care? Ethan Watters explores this question in the book: Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche about exporting our models for mental illness.
And a recent piece on WNYC, the New York NPR affiliate, played a fascinating segment on how some hospitals are responding to the different languages and cultural assumptions of those they treat. A tape and summary of the segment can be found here: http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/152532
Please join the discussion below to explore these findings and share your experiences.