Exploring Latino/x Mental Health 

In the Exploring Latino/x Mental Health Series, we take a deeper look at the social and cultural experiences central to Latino/x culture. Personal stories and cultural knowledge are shared to better understand the power of language in defining lived experiences and how these lived experiences influence a person’s well-being. Lastly, the added stress and harm caused when care strategies do not consider social and cultural factors is also explored.

Part 1: Colorism and Anti-Blackness

Phrases such as “Pelo Malo” (bad or curly hair) and “Mejora la Raza” (better the race) are heard in the vocabulary of many Latinos/x. These are indicators of colorism, a preference for lighter skin tones, and anti-Blackness, a specific form of racism against Black people. In this session, we define, understand, and explore their role in our development and self-concept.

By the end of the circle or workshop, participants will have

    • Defined Colorism and Anti-Blackness in the context of Latino/x culture
    • Understood how Colorism and Anti-Blackness become internalized during identity development
    • Explored the tension between self-acceptance and the adoption of Colorism and Anti-Blackness

Part 2: Familism

Significant attention to family obligation can often be seen in Latino/x culture due to Familism. This obligation includes a high level of respect and social-emotional support undertaken across generations. In this session, we will consider the impact of Familism by exploring the harmful and beneficial experiences connected to these values.

By the end of the circle or workshop, participants will have

  • Defined Familism in the context of Latino/x culture
  • Explored the advantages and disadvantages of upholding Familism values
  • Considered the mental health effects of balancing family values in the individualist culture of the U.S. versus the collectivist culture in Latin America

Part 3: Assimilation and Acculturation

The Latino/x community in the U.S. often grapples with the processes of Assimilation (fully adopting the new,
more dominant culture) and/or Acculturation (embracing the original culture and adapting to the dominant one) which can be challenging at best and painfully disorienting for many. This session focuses on the complex impact of these two processes on the behaviors, relationships, and values of first and second-generation Latino/x immigrants.

By the end of the circle or workshop, participants will have

  • Identified aspects of Assimilation and Acculturation from the first and second-generation U.S. Latino/x immigrant perspective
  • Explored the advantages and disadvantages of Assimilation and Acculturation experiences and the mental health impact associated with them
  • Considered the stress of the immigration experience in relation to a sense of self, safety, and belonging

Part 4: Marianismo and Machismo

Gender roles are a strong component of Latino/x relationships and are traditionally upheld through the concepts of Machismo and Marianismo: Latino/x cultural values that describe gendered norms to follow in society. This session considers the social and behavioral effects of marianismo and machismo on ourselves and others.

By the end of the circle or workshop, participants will have

  • Identified attitudes influenced by Marianismo and Machismo in their environment
  • Examined the beneficial and harmful effects of Marianismo and Machismo on mental health
  • Considered how Marianismo and Machismo behaviors affect belonging and acceptance

The following people and organizations have experienced these circles:

“As a white woman, it gave me an abundance of information I can use personally and in my profession. It was great hearing my colleagues’ personal life experiences and learning everyone’s different perspectives. I will remember this training forever.”

Colorism and Anti-Blackness

Participant, Springfield Public Schools City Connects

“I found the whole training to be a positive experience. It was helpful to have another perspective, especially from somebody who has been through the whole immigration process herself. It was also helpful to think about all of the things that can be challenging for students who are first or second-generation immigrants.”

Assimilation and Acculturation

Participant, Springfield Public Schools City Connects

“It’s always good to put a name to things. My first time hearing the word Marianismo. Also, hearing the points of view of different people and finding out that they grew up experiencing the same things is also interesting.”

Marianismo and Machismo

Participant, Springfield Public Schools City Connects

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