262607 Latino male youth, violence and access to mental health

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM

Vanessa Cardona, MPH , Health Equity Institute, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Perla Flores, MPH , Health Education Department, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Background: Witnessing or experiencing violence can result in negative consequences such as stress, depression, anxiety, disruptive/aggressive behavior, and academic failure. Young males (ages 10-24) are either victims or perpetrators of 86% of all homicides, nationwide. Homicides are the second leading cause of death for Latinos and in Fruitvale, a predominantly Latino neighborhood (46%) in Oakland, California the homicide rate is more than five times the nation's average. In order to alleviate the effects of violence, an assessment to examine the mental health needs of Latino youth was conducted in partnership with the Spanish Speaking Citizens' Foundation.

Methods: Three focus groups with 20 Latino male youth ages 11-18 from Fruitvale and four interviews with community stakeholders who work with youth.

Results: Youth participants could not identify mental health services available to them and thus engaged in coping strategies such as substance use and or recreational activities (sports, dance, and poetry). Stigma acted as a barrier to accessing mental health services as the Latino community perceived a person accessing services as “crazy.” Another barrier was stringent requirements in clinical settings that restricted care for youth. Fears of deportation, family and school stressors also affect Latino youth's mental health. Youth expressed being in constant alert and fearful of potential violent assaults that could result in physical injury and premature death.

Conclusions: De-stigmatize mental health through youth outreach services that aim to re-define mental health as ‘bienestar' (well-being). Outreach services should be designed to appeal to youth and be incorporated in school curriculum.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education

Learning Objectives:
Describe three ways in which Latino male youth respond to trauma caused by violence they experience. Identify three barriers to accessing mental health services for Latino male youth. Identify two solutions that will address the mental health needs of Latino male youth.

Keywords: Mental Health, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an MPH(c) for San Francisco State University's Health Education Department and co-authored the research study that informs this proposed presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.