By Silvia Galvez and Nancy Reyes Temozihui
About Our Research
Historically, there has been much stigma around mental health challenges in the Latine community, leading some, for example, to describe feeling “stressed” rather than acknowledging that there is a possibility of more serious concern. Our project focuses on the relationship between cultural expectations and mental health for Latine women and Latine LGBTQ+ individuals.
The author of Unbreakable Latina, Melina, speaks about how she grew up around violence within her family, which led to childhood trauma. Due to the passing of Melina’s grandmother, her mother takes on the “traditional role,” as a Latina, in caring for her siblings in addition to her own children. She discusses the expectation that Latina women are meant to “nurture” their extended families, yet being raised side-by-side with uncles whose difficulties with drugs and violence affected both Melina and her brother. The stress of that time and the values her mother adopted affected Melina’s mindset and perception as well as her experience of trauma. This shows the cultural aspect of trauma getting passed on to generations.
The EVERYNIGHTNIGHTS podcast episode with guest Jesus discusses the fear of coming out as a young adult in a traditional Latinx family. Jesus described fearing his mothers’ rejection so much that he packed clothes and valuables and had friends on speed dial. Jesus describes a first-hand story that many Latine LGBTQ youth experience with their families.
Juliet Takes a Breath
The Young Adult novel Juliet Takes A Breath shows a Latine character facing a journey as an LGBTQ individual with her family. The main character in this novel is Juliet Palante, a nineteen-year-old queer Puerto Rican from the Bronx, New York. She receives the opportunity of an internship with a beloved author of her favorite feminist book, and this prompts her to share her queer identity with her family leading to schisms and distances. Distance and silence was expressed when cultural values were not how they typically were.
A Little Harder to Find Your Place: Latine LGBTQ+ Youth and Family Belonging
Latine LGBTQ+ Youth seek acceptance from their family. Unfortunately, many of them are not accepted by their parents for many reasons. For example, parents might have anti-LGBTQ beliefs causing the youth stress. The research article A Little Harder to Find Your Place: Latine LGBTQ+ Youth and Family Belonging by Maru Gonzalez, Tania Connaughton-Espino & Bianka M. Reese examines the experiences of eight LGBTQ+ Latine youth and finds that many were afriad of revealing and expressing their identity to their parents. That fear of expressing identity creates stress and barriers between parents and LGBTQ+ youth and for the future mental health of those youth.
Understanding Mental Health Disparities
The journal article “Understanding Mental Health Disparities” provides a study on Latine Youth and and Latine Caregivers. The research is a way to study how ethnicity, culture, and environment experienced by caregivers is passed on to future generations. This article shows that past experiences that have affected caregivers have often been passed on to their children in the ways they treat their kids.
Melina. Unbreakable Latina, Sept. 2021, https://www.unbreakablelatina.com/.
Melina. “Episode 31: Childhood Traumas,” Unbreakable Latina, 13 June 2022, https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/unbreakable-latina/id1589822535.
Snow Tha Product. “Episode 184: La Comadre,” EVERYNIGHTNIGHTS PODCAST, 22 February 2023. https://open.spotify.com/show/539kUu7WocS5CpcULlSk9T?si=e6418ae4ef2b4625
Rivera, Gabby. Juliet Takes a Breath. New York: Dial/Penguin, 2016.
Maru Gonzalez, Tania Connaughton-Espino & Bianka M. Reese (2022): “A little harder to find your place:” Latinx LGBTQ + Youth and Family Belonging, Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, DOI: 10.1080/10538720.2022.2058143
Galvan, Thania, and Omar G. Gudiño. “Understanding Latinx Youth Mental Health Disparities.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2021, https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fser0000365.