Latino and Hispanic Mental Health Care

There are many trials one might face in this lifetime, and finding proper mental health care should not be one of them. Specifically, there is an issue for Latino and Hispanic persons to be able to receive the proper care that they need. Throughout this article, I will be using both the terms ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ interchangeably to describe members of this beautiful population, while meaning no disrespect to those who identify by either Hispanic or Latino.  

Currently, there are over 400,000 Latinos living in the State of Utah (Roughly 14% or 1 in 7)1. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 46% of Latino women and 20% of Latino men have struggled with depression2. However, less than 10% of Latino individuals suffering mental illnesses reach out to mental health care specialists. Additionally, Hispanic students between the 9th and 12th grades are more likely to commit suicide than their black and white peers3. Furthermore, first and second-generation Hispanics are more likely to experience depression than immigrants. 

Stigma/Cultural Differences 

There is a stigma surrounding mental health issues in most cultures. Within the Latino population, there is a fear of being labeled as “locos” (crazy) that can cause shame and fear to seek out the treatment that they need. Approximately 1 in 5 people are affected by a mental illness2. This statistic is no different for those within the Latino population.  

Understanding that there are few differences in regards to those who can be affected by mental illnesses, it is important to note that there are some differences in the way mental health treatments should take place among different cultures. I personally have visited and done humanitarian/therapeutic work in many countries, including: Spain, Costa Rica, Chile, Perú, and México. I understand that each of these countries have their own unique culture as well as do the other countries and cultures within the Hispanic and Latino communities. Finding a mental health care professional that can understand the cultural differences and possibly even the language is a big challenge and something that needs to be taken into account when looking for someone who can help you the best.  

Uninsured and Undocumented 

The fear of finding affordable health care is a real struggle if you do not have insurance or proper documentation. I have spoken to many individuals who do not seek out mental health care out of fear deportation. If this is a fear for you, it is important to seek out clinics and providers that care for all persons, regardless of legal status.  

Resources 

If you are uninsured, the Affordable Care Act is a resource available to you to see what you can qualify for. To learn more, go to https://www.cuidadodesalud.gov/es/ 

According to NAMI’s website, you can go to the website: findtreatment.samhsa.gov or by calling the National Treatment Referral Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). If you do not have papers, contact local Latino organizations that might be able to help or provide a referral. Additionally, you can search NAMI’s Compartiendo Esperanza to learn more about the importance of mental health awareness within Latino communities. 

 

1-US Census, 2015. 

2-National Alliance on Mental Illness 

3-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. 

Originally published on http://utvalleywellness.com/

Forced Apologies

My four-year-old daughter placed herself in the middle of our living room to play with blocks. She was so engrossed with building a wooden castle that she didn’t notice her two-year-old sister walking towards her with her right arm stretched far back to slap her older sister across the head. When that slap came, my older daughter went from happy to surprise to anger and then lots of tears. She ran towards me seeking justice. “Mommy, she hit me!” My younger daughter remained still, looking innocent. I immediately walked over to her with my older daughter in hand and said, “Hands are not for hitting. Say sorry for hitting please.”  I’m sure many parents can relate to this scenario. Teaching our children the skills for making amends is an important life skill and is not so much about saying the words “I’m sorry”.  

There is a belief amongst some parents that enforcing premature apologies on children is not effective. Their reasoning is that premature apologies teach children to lie and encourage insincerity. It also creates shame and embarrassment. Other studies show that young children have the ability to be empathetic even before they can speak; therefore, parents should encourage apologies (Smith, Chen, Harris; 2010). As I reflected on my research and my knowledge as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I recognized several things we can do as parents to create productive apologies: 

  1. Keep yourself in check: It’s frustrating to see your children fight, especially when it happens at inconvenient times. However, it’s important to remain calm and model for your children how to handle frustration.   
  2. Be immediate when possible: When you see an incident occur between your children, address it. The best time for learning and growth is when the incident is still fresh in their minds. However, when there are time constraints and the issue cannot be addressed right away, it is important to tell your children when and where it will be addressed. Be consistent when using the alternative and follow through.  
  3. Ask instead of tell: Avoid lecturing. Ask questions instead. “Tell me what happened?” “What were you feeling when you hit your sister?” Validate the expressed emotion and help them to understand that it is okay to feel frustration and sadness; however, it is not okay to hit or throw things. Help them to also make the connection between emotion and action. “Look at her face, how do you think she’s feeling right now?” Asking these types of questions enhances empathy. 
  4. Problem Solve: Ask questions about what they think they should do when they feel frustrated or sad. Help them to come up with solutions.  Ask questions about how they can make things better with their sibling/s. 
  5. Have them practice a do-over: When your child identifies the solution, have them practice it with the other sibling/s. Praise them for their efforts at the end.    

What is more important than the phrase “I’m sorry” is what children take away from the experience. We can facilitate and enhance learning opportunities by not focusing on the phrase “I’m sorry” but instead more on what can be learned from this situation and how can we improve.  

Winter Can Be Enjoyable

As we roll into the winter months, fitness can be more and more difficult to stay on top of. To help avoid the “Utah winter hibernation” I want to give 4 tips that have helped me to take control of the bleak Utah winters and be able to maintain my fitness lifestyle!  

 

 

  1. Make time for exercise. The most difficult thing about transitioning from summer to winter is planning. During the summer it can be easy to be active just be default. We can ride our bike, go for a walk, and participate with friends and family in outdoor activities without thinking twice about it. During the winter, these activities are not anywhere near as easy to do, if possible at all. So it requires planning to attend a fitness class, go to the gym, etc. So be sure and plan your workout and make it a priority. 
  2. Find a friend to workout with. We all know how hard it can be to get a fitness routine going in the winter. When it is cold outside the thought of leaving our warm bed and going to work out is less than desirable. Finding a friend that has similar fitness goals will help keep you motivated and accountable! Another substitute for this is hiring a personal trainer, even just initially, to help develop those habits.  
  3. Find a new winter hobby. During summer, it can be easy to get a quick workout in by just stepping outside and going for a walk. The cold brings unique opportunities to try something new! I personally love snowboarding, and it provides a great workout. Other things you might try is joining an indoor sports league, fitness classes at a local gym, indoor cycling, etc.  
  4. Be safe. In applying these tips, be sure that you have the right equipment and proper dress attire. One problem that I see, in the winter time is that people don’t dress adequately for winter sports and this can cause physiological problems. For example when running outdoors it is crucial to warm up properly, if we begin a jog by jumping right into it, the cold air can cause our respiratory tract to constrict, decreasing our flow of oxygen when our body needs it. This can lead to lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, hypothermia, and other problems. If you are unsure on what might be needed, ask an expert. 

 Winter can be an excellent time for fitness goals if combated properly! I would love to hear about the fun winter experiences that you have and any new winter activities that you find. You can reach out to me with these experiences and any questions you might have on instagram @trainerkelli or on Facebook! Have fun and be safe!  

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

Sport Climbing in Utah County

If you want to get into sport climbing, Utah County is the place. Between American Fork Canyon and Rock Canyon you have two world-class climbing areas that have a large range of climbs, from beginner to some of the hardest in the world. Rock Canyon alone has over 400 climbs. If you include American Fork Canyon and other climbing areas in Utah County, you have over 1000 climbs to choose from. You could spend a lifetime just trying to climb everything in Utah County! 

What is sport climbing?  

Let me answer that by explaining there are two major types of rock climbing: sport climbing and trad climbing (traditional climbing). Sport climbing is a style of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock for protection, usually drilled and glued bolts and anchors. Trad climbing is a style of rock climbing in which a climber (or group of climbers) will place all gear required to protect against falls, and then remove it when a passage is complete. Sport climbing has a cheaper cost of entry and takes less time to get out and climb. It’s a great alternative to hitting the gym, if you do it 2 to 3 times a week. Can you say full body workout?! 

How is sport climbing classified?  

The rating (degree of difficulty) or grade of climb is designated by a class number. A class five climb would require the use of rope, belaying, and gear to protect the climber from a fall. Fifth class is further classified by a decimal and letter system, increasing in difficulty as the number gets larger. The degree of difficulty can be broken up from 5.0 – 5.7 for beginners. Most anyone can start at these ratings and have a good time. 5.8 – 5.9 is where most weekend climbers become comfortable; they employ the specific skills of climbing, such as jamming, liebacks, and mantels. (If you get into the sport you’ll learn these terms pretty quickly.) At 5.10 you have to be a pretty dedicated weekend climber. 5.11-5.15 is in the realm of experts/pros; it demands dedicated training and natural ability, not to mention a crazy obsession for the sport. 

 What kind of gear do I need to sport climb?  

At a minimum, you’ll need climbing shoes, chalk bag, harness, belay device, a rope and 8-10 quickdraw. You will also want the app MtnProject. It’s a great way to find the climbs and get beta (information) about the climb. Two local shops where you can obtain gear, beta, and lessons are Mountain Works in Provo and Out N Back in Orem. 

 Which climbing area should I choose?  

Both American Fork Canyon and Rock Canyon have beginner climbs, but the bulk of the beginners start in Rock Canyon. The climbs are shorter and you can top rope them to test your chops for the sport. Some great beginner areas lower down in Rock Canyon are Tinker Toys and The Appendage. Further up the canyon is The Wild—hands down the best crag for beginners. For intermediate and advanced climbers there are climbs ranging from 5.10 to 5.13 all along the canyon. Some of my favorites are Black Rose, Bug Barn Dance Wall, and The Zoo. 

 American Fork Canyon is known for lots of overhanging “juggy” (pockets) and harder climbs that get you pumped super fast. Some standout areas are The Membrane, Division Wall and Escape Buttress. For some of the hardest climbs, checkout Hell Cave, with a mind blowing 5.14. People come from all over the world to climb this canyon. It’s hard to go wrong with either canyon. Get out there and give it a go! 

 

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine 

Coming Out – Part 2 Parental Self-Care

When he told me he only had crushes on boys and thats why he never dated, I started crying. 

My son told me not to tell his father that he really feels like a girl. Did I let him play with girls too much? 

I asked my daughter why her best friend identifies as lesbian, and she told me she thinks she may be one too. Im sure she is not. 

When teens come out, the world shifts. Some parents respond with denial, wanting to diminish the news. Others feel anger and want to find out who is responsible. Some parents feel sadness, anticipating a loss of shared values, a loss of future. Denial, anger and sadness are all important aspects of grief processing, and for many parents, responding to a child’s coming out is a grief experience. 

Most children talk with their parents only after years of trying to figure out what is really happening inside, and when they finally tell parents, those years are condensed into a moment that – to a parent – may feel like a dropped bomb. 

After listening to hundreds of stories of parents responding to their children’s expressions of attraction and identity, I’ve seen how important it is for parents to take care of their own emotional health afterward.*  

Here are some valuable principles to keep in mind: 

  1. Take a break to figure yourself out. Denial, anger, and grief are expected. However, if your child feels overwhelmed by your denial, anger and grief, then healthy connecting may be more difficult. Many children “take on” their parents’ reactions and become more isolated. You may want to find another place and time to express and explore your genuine reactions. One mother told her child she loved him and needed some time to figure out her own feelings, and then she spent the afternoon at her sister’s home. Another father immediately called a counselor, reassuring his son that the counseling was intended to help the father provide healthy support for his son.  
  2. Remind yourself, “This is not a crisis.” One mother described feeling completely numb. Because Christmas was only a few days away, she felt both the pressure of the family’s expectation and the heaviness of the news. She found that repeating aloud the words, “This is not a crisis” reminded her that their family would still survive despite the new information. 
  3. It’s normal to feel more upset, even though your child may seem happier. While children often feel relief after sharing feelings with parents, your feelings may begin to resemble a roller-coaster. It may seem unfair that your child has just given you the burden to carry. Breathe through these feelings and recognize that this is normal.  
  4. Find safe people to share what you are feeling. Your child may insist that you tell no one. And although it’s important to honor your child’s sense of privacy, it’s OK to let your child know that you need to talk with someone. Perhaps you and your child can agree on a trusted family member, friend, or counselor. 
  5. Limit your contact with others who are uninformed. Sometimes well-meaning friends and family have advice that is not helpful, or that undermines your confidence in yourself and your child. It’s OK to limit your contact with these people for a period of time. Plan what you will say. “We are working hard to support each other right now and I need to focus on that,” may be helpful to repeat. 
  6. And finally, when you ask “Why me?” try switching to the question, “Why not me?” and see what strengths you find in yourself. Chances are you are being called to a deeper way of loving your child and yourself. 

SIDEBAR MATERIAL — Find a Parent Support Group in Utah County 

Find a parent support group. Meeting with other parents in similar situations has been a positive emotional turning point for many. Here are a few in Utah Valley: 

  1. PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meets weekly at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in downtown Provo (provopflag@gmail.com) 
  2. Encircle Parents’ Meeting (Third Sunday of each month at Encircle in Provo) https://encircletogether.org/supportgroups 
  3. Northstar Parents’ Meeting (Quarterly meeting at a parent’s home in Lehi) 

https://www.lds.org/blog/navigating-family-differences-with-love-and-trust?lang=eng  

Next time:  Coming Out Part 3 – What do we do now? 

 

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

 

Every Day is a Bonus Day: How a terminal cancer patient is inspiring others to live

My name is Melanie Day. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, just a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my third child. I endured chemo, surgery, and too many ER visits, all while pregnant. I eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and then continued more chemo, radiation, and surgeries. After a year and a half of treatment, I had my first clear scan and was so excited to be moving on with my life, free of cancer. However, in 2015, they found cancer in my bones and I was given five years to live.

My perspective on life completely changed. Suddenly, I wanted to do all those things I said I’d do someday. I wanted to go on that Mediterranean cruise with my husband. I wanted to be more forgiving and stop judging others. I wanted to speak more freely and openly. I wanted to make sure that people knew how I really felt, and that they knew that I loved them. I wanted to stop saving my money and instead spend it on making memories with my loved ones. I wanted to stop worrying about what I looked like or what others thought of me. I wanted to instead build people up, make them happy and excited about life. I wanted to learn to enjoy the chaos of a toddler house and to stop obsessing with having a perfectly clean house. I knew I had to make a lot of changes. And I was grateful that cancer was teaching me to wake up!

I’ve always been the person who saved all my pennies and never splurged on anything. I’ve said no to so many adventures because I wanted to save my money instead, or I didn’t think I had the time, or some other excuse like that. But cancer has shown me how important it is to make the most out of life NOW. Making memories with my family and to no longer delay my dreams are top priorities for me now. My family and I have made an effort to go on adventures this past year to cross off my bucket list items. We spent Christmas making memories at a mountain resort instead of buying our kids presents. I skied in Tahoe for a weekend with the Send It Foundation. We took the kids to Disneyland for a magical week, thanks to some generous friends. In February, the BYU and Duke basketball coaches surprised me with the number one item on my bucket list. They got us tickets to the UNC at Duke men’s basketball game, my ultimate sports fantasy. In April, I spent two weeks in New Zealand playing in the World Masters Games with my former college teammates. Just last week, we witnessed thousands of lanterns in the sky at the Lantern Fest in Salt Lake City. A nonprofit organization called Inheritance of Hope is hosting us this next week in Florida at Disneyworld, Universal Studios, and Sea World. After that, we will be in Lake Tahoe for a family reunion. I plan on going to Hawaii in November, Europe the next two years, and NYC in the fall of 2018. I’m sure more opportunities for adventure will arise and we will seize them. I’ve said “no” to so many of these opportunities in the past, so going forward, I’ll mostly be saying, “yes.”

Although this terminal diagnosis drove me into depression and anxiety of my unavoidable death, I eventually realized the importance of sharing my story so that I could help others. That is now my life’s mission. I want to help others see what I see, without having a terminal disease. I want people to ponder their own death and let that motivate them to live their life how they want to NOW instead of waiting until it’s too late. I want people to realize that every day is a bonus day.

 

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

Written by Melanie Day

Play Therapy: What is it, and How Will it Help My Child?

 

When adults come to therapy, they can adequately express themselves

using their words and having discussions with their therapist; however, when children come to therapy this may not be the case. Many children do not have the words to express what there are experiencing at home, at school, with friends, etc. Further, children may not be aware of what they are feeling because they do not yet understand what different emotions feel like. Therefore, they would need an outlet which allows them to talk without using words, and without being restricted by a lack of cognitive development. Play therapy helps eliminate these barriers that children face when they come to therapy.

Play therapy allows children to express themselves with the use of toys and actions. It occurs in a safe and caring environment where the child is allowed to play freely with minimal limitations (e.g. safety precautions). Sometimes a therapist may prompt the child’s play during a session; however, most therapists allow children to play with the toys they want, how they want. Play therapy should not make a child feel that they are in therapy or that they are being analyzed. Sessions can last anywhere from 30-50 minutes, depending on the child. A play therapy session can include just the child, the child and their parents, or the entire family, depending on the situation that brings the child in for therapy.

One question to consider when seeking a play therapist for your child is, “Does my child feel comfortable with the therapist?” Because the child will need to express himself/herself through play, it is important for your child to feel safe and comfortable with the therapist. If your child does not feel safe, then play therapy will not be effective.

For parents, this random play may appear to be pointless, because it is “something that children can do at home.” But, when play is done in a therapeutic setting, it will allow the child to process through their experiences and then begin to heal. One explanation for this is that children unconsciously (or consciously) act out whatever they are experiencing in their life, and when a therapist is present, they can reflect back to the child things that they notice (e.g. it seems like the doll doesn’t have any friends to play with, that’s lonely). This reflection helps give the child words to express their experiences, as well as helping the child feel understood and validated.

Play therapy allows adults access to a child’s world. Using toys and actions the therapist can communicate with the child wherever the child is at in their cognitive development. Further, it allows the therapist to help facilitate the healing process by understanding the child and responding back in the way the child needs. Children need to feel validated and heard as much as adults do; play therapy is one way to do this. Children deserve to have a life where they are not burdened by life’s problems, and play therapy is one way to help unburden your child.

Written by – Lexi Lee, MS, LAMFT

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness