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Stress and Latino Mental Health

Effects of discrimination and stress among Latinos

Earlier this year, the American Psychological Association (APA, 2016a) released their annual Stress in America survey results. Over the years, the survey has focused on various concerns and issues that impact stress among children and adults. The focus of the APA’s 2015 Stress in America survey this year focused on the role of discrimination on stress (see full report here).

Source: Courtesy

Research has consistently shown that discrimination and racism impacts mental health functioning and stress among people from ethnic minority groups (APA, 2016b). The Stress in America survey highlighted that stress levels have increased in the past year and that most adults reported that stress had a negative impact on their mental and physical health (APA, 2016a). Furthermore, the survey noted that Hispanic and Latino Americans reported the highest levels of stress.

According to the findings, Latinos reported the highest stress across four major sources of stress including money, employment, family responsibilities and health concerns (APA, 2016a). As you might expect, stress also impacts how we interact with others. According to the survey, 46 percent of parents report losing their patience or yelling at their children. Whereas the survey focused on discrimination and stress among adults, studies have also shown that discrimination impacts stress among children and adolescents. For example, a recent study among Hispanic adolescents found that stress and discrimination was associated with depression symptoms (Cervantes, Cardoso, & Goldbach, 2015). The researchers (Cervantes et al., 2015) emphasized the need to study the cultural effect (e.g., anti-immigration attitudes) on Latinos because studies have shown that they suffer from higher depressive symptoms than other ethnic groups. Specifically, immigration, discrimination, family economics, and family drug stress were tied to depressive symptoms.

Of more concern is the fact that ethnic minorities (including Latinos) often don’t seek professional help to address mental health concerns or stress. The survey (APA, 2016a) notes that 1 in 5 adults never engage in stress relief activities and the most common methods for coping with stress among Latinos included listening to music (52%) and using prayer (34%).

Below are some resources for coping with stress.

Information on finding a professional


American Psychological Association (APA, 2016a). 2015 Stress in America Survey. Retrieved April 2016 from

American Psychological Association (APA, 2016b). Fact sheet: Health disparities and stress. Retrieved April 2016 from

Cervantes, R. C., Cardoso, J. B., & Goldbach, J. T. (2015). Examining differences in culturally based stress among clinical and nonclinical Hispanic adolescents. Cultural Diversity And Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21(3), 458-467.

Copyright 2016 Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D.

About the Authors

Jonathan Otero, B.A., is a graduate of University of Houston- Downtown and is currently a Research Assistant at the UHD Race, Culture, and Mental Health Research Lab under the direction of Dr. Turner.

Erlanger Turner, Ph.D. – often referred to by his clients as Dr. Earl – is a Clinical Psychologist in Houston, Texas. He is also an Assistant Professor of Psychology and teaches courses on clinical psychology and multicultural issues. Dr. Turner specializes in child and adolescent disorders, parenting, and psychological assessment. His research interests focus on psychotherapy use, mental health equity, and access to behavioral health services for youth. He has published articles in scholarly journals and in national media sources such as New York Times and Washington’s Top News.

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