Mental health services in Spanish plummet amid rising population

The availability of mental health services in Spanish is decreasing even as the Latino population continues to grow, according to a recent study.

Why is this important: Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, and the number of Latinos who speak Spanish at home has increased from 24.6 million in 2000 to 39.1 million in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Between 2014 and 2019, the proportion of facilities offering mental health care in Spanish fell by almost 18%, according to a study published last week in the journal Psychiatric services.

  • This represented a loss of 1,163 Spanish-speaking mental health facilities.
  • Overall, 44 states saw a decline in the availability of services in Spanish, despite growing Hispanic populations in all states.
  • The national Hispanic population grew by 4.5%, or 5.2 million people, over the same period.
  • The study looked at data from the National Mental Health Services Survey conducted in 2014 and 2019.

The big picture: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 40% of Latino adults have reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic, compared to 25% of non-Hispanic whites.

What they say : “Disparities in behavioral risk factors for health over the past decade have also increased and closely parallel the growth of the Hispanic population overall,” the authors wrote.

The plot: Oklahoma, North Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky and Maine have seen some of the largest percentage declines in mental health services in Spanish.

  • Meanwhile, Delaware, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska and New Mexico saw small increases.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255 in English, 1-888-628-9454 in Spanish) provides free, confidential assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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