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Puerto Ricans and Mental Illness

  • Date Submitted: 04/11/2014 05:16 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 51.5 
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“According to the U.S. Surgeon general’s 2001 Report, Mental Health services are underutilized by ethnic minority groups. Moreover the recommendation in that report suggested that mental health issues must be understood in a cultural context in order to insure access to mental health services by all populations” (Rojas-Vilches & et al., 2011). The Puerto Rican culture has specific practices and traditions that allow for maintenance, restoration and protection of mental health and illness. “Beliefs about mental illness appear to vary across cultures. One belief that seems particularly detrimental to the pursuit of seeking professional help is related to stigma” (Rojas-Vilches & et al., 2011). This stigma may also be seen among the Puerto Rican culture since mental illness among this group is associated with the stigma of being a weak person or for the punishment for sins. In addition to, possibly being “the result of witch craft or the evil eye” (Young & Coop, 2011).
Puerto Ricans maintain mental health by social and spiritual means. “Researchers speculate that many Latinos may dismiss the need for professional help because they turn to family and their clergy for support during difficult times” (Rojas-Vilches & et al., 2011). Puerto Ricans believe in the authority and hierarchy within the Catholic Church and lean on it for support during emotional trials. Catholics believe in praying to God, Mary and other Catholic saints, as well as, give honor to statues and images of the these saints. “Practicing or believing in a religion tends to help individuals deal with stressful and difficult experiences is related to less help-seeking behaviors among the general population” (Rojas-Vilches & et al., 2011).
Puerto Ricans support mental health protection in many spiritual ways. Prayers are made to specific Catholic Saints in times of need such as St. Michael who protects the sick. Religious jewelry such as the cross and other religious pendants may be...


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