NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — The Hispanic Latino population has grown tremendously in Northwest Arkansas. However, some community leaders say resources to treat mental health care has not grown enough to keep up with their needs.
Living Better Lives Counseling LLC, Licensed Professional Counselor, Massiel Bradberry says not only is there a lack of Hispanic Latino counselors in the area but there is a limited number of counselors who speak Spanish.
Bradberry tells us that the pandemic has been hard on folks with more people dealing with intense grief, job loss, burnout and evictions to name a few.
She says language is a big barrier, adding it is important for people to be able to freely express themselves and have a counselor they can relate to. There are also some stigmas surrounding mental health and cultural barriers that also keep Latin-X people from reaching out to mental health professionals.
“People tend to try to seek help from their church, from their pastor, their minister but there is definitely a value to reaching out to someone who has the professional education and the professional experience in the field,” said Bradberry.
Immigration status also creates a barrier. Bradberry says it’s important for folks to know that your status does not put them in any risk when seeking help.
Cost of services and health insurance coverage also plays a role.
Bradberry says it’s important for people not to wait until they are having a crisis to ask for help. Instead reach out to a counselor when you see a problem continue to come up in your life.
Within the last year, Bradberry has seen an increase in Latin-X people calling to schedule sessions, including teens calling for their parents. She says mental health services are on high demand right now so scheduling a session is tough but there are options.
“Something that has been beneficial since the pandemic is that with the telehealth restrictions lifted in a way… having more resources in that regard people from other parts of the state. You can reach out to other therapists outside of your city,” said Bradberry.
She adds to look for local community support groups or workshops in your area. There are also a lot of services available online. Some counselors have podcasts or post videos on social media that can also help you.
Although it does not replace a one- on-one with a counselor at least you are getting some support or relief until you can get in for a session.
Bradberry adds it is important for institutions, jobs, schools to continue to educate people about prioritizing mental health care and provide access to the resources they need to get the care they need, especially in these tough times.