As some of the newest and most stigmatized immigrants to the United States, the Latino population is often exposed to many suicide risk factors. Not only do some of them have to deal with living in neighborhoods where there is higher crime rates, low quality housing, and poor schools, but Latino youth also are faced with the challenge of familism (when family is prioritized before and over the individual).
Familism can cause tension between Latino parents and adolescents. Parents often hold on to traditional Latin American expectations of their children while Latino youth are pressured by American culture to be independent. Trying to balance the differences between two cultures can leave teens feeling trapped and alone.
A program called Life is Precious (LIP) has begun providing after school services for these at-risk adolescents such as working to improve school performance and training in artistic expression to discover new talents (such as dance and music). Licensed counseling is also provided to improve emotional health by developing coping skills for daily challenges.
Life is Precious, run by Comunilife, is based in New York state where suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens. These numbers are especially high for Latina teens. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that 15% of Latina teens attempt suicide. However, this community based approach, which focuses on culturally appropriate therapy for Latina adolescents, has shown great results in reducing conflict within families. One way LIP helps increase family connection is by strengthening family communication between Latina youth and their parents. Also, for those in the program, positive results were reported with a decrease in suicidal behavior, depressive symptoms and anger.
Comunilife works with individuals outside the Latino community from other diverse backgrounds. All of Comunilife’s services approach clients of diverse background with sensitivity and awareness.
What do you think or feel about the Life is Precious program? How do you think we can improve mental health treatment for different cultures? If you have any questions or comments about the subject of today’s blog post, please let us know! We’d love to hear from you!