Mental Health & Latino Kids

In September 2017, Salud America! Published an issue brief that reviewed the evidence related to the mental health of Latino youth. Findings from the research included:

Latino children suffer alarming mental health issues.

  • 22% of Latino youth have depressive symptoms, a rate higher than any minority group besides Native American youth.
  • More than 1 in 4 Latina high-schoolers have thought about committing suicide.
  • Latina high-schoolers are more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers (15.1% to 9.8%).
  • 32.6% of Latino students say they feel hopeless and sad, and participate less in things they enjoy as a result (vs. 27.2% of whites, 24.7% of blacks).

Latino children do not access mental health services as much as their peers.

  • Only 8% of Latinos say their child has ever used mental health care services (vs. 14% of whites).
  • Latino children had half of the outpatient mental health visits that their white peers had.
  • One study found 38.3% of school-aged Latino children and 37.2% of Latino preschoolers had a clinical need for mental health services; yet only 17.3% of school-aged Latino children and 10.8% of Latino preschoolers had received mental health services in the past year.
  • Despite the higher rates of suicide attempts among Latino youth, these children are less likely to be identified as suicidal, and less likely to receive crisis intervention services than others.

The migration experience causes stress, anxiety, and depression in Latino children.

  • Before migrating to the U.S., 38% of Latino children are separated from their parents for up to a year and 32% of Latino children are separated for longer than a year.
  • Latino families face economic hardships, difficult travel conditions, and stressful family separations during migration to the U.S.
  • After migrating to the U.S., Latinos are stressed by social status changes, language issues, discrimination, and immigration status questions.
  • For instance, compared to peers in their native land, Puerto Rican youth living in New York were lonelier and more depressed, anxious, exposed to more violence, and more likely to be discriminated against.


See the full report.