SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — People of any race can experience the burden of mental health issues.
Local therapists said Spanish-speaking Siouxlanders face linguistic and cultural obstacles when seeking mental health resources.
Diana Castro is a bilingual licensed mental health counselor with Siouxland Counseling Services. She said she sees roughly a dozen Spanish-speaking patients each week. While many of these patients are bilingual, Castro said receiving mental health services in their native language is more impactful.
“Definitely very beneficial. It makes a huge difference in how comfortable they feel. Many times, they’re able to relay the information a lot better in their native language and they’re able to express themselves a lot better in their native language,” said Castro.
She said there are not enough bilingual therapists in Siouxland and different agencies work together to meet people’s needs.
“We have a pretty long waiting list. We refer out as much as we can to other Spanish-speaking therapists, but as well I know that it’s difficult to fit everybody in. When they are booked, they call back,” said Castro.
They’ve had their waiting list for four months and they’ve added Spanish-speaking group therapy to address the demand for mental health services.
Ricardo Osorio is a bilingual psychiatric nurse practitioner with the Siouxland Mental Health Center. He sees patients who may need medication for anxiety or depression. Osorio said cultural barriers stop many Hispanics in Siouxland from seeking the help they need.
“I’m honestly not sure why there is such a greater stigma in the Hispanic community, but I know that there’s a thing called ‘machismo’, whereas men, we’re supposed to be strong, supposed to be a man, you can’t cry, you can’t be sad,” said Osorio.
He claimed the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the Siouxland Hispanic community and people still have not received mental health care to cope with that trauma.
“Due to language barriers and just educational barriers, I feel like a lot of people who worked in those areas still haven’t processed those deaths and I feel like there are people in this community who are still struggling with loss,” said Osorio.
Osorio said even within Siouxland’s Hispanic community, there’s still a variety of dialects and cultures and he’s always learning how to better care for people in need.