4 tips for talking to your Latino parents about mental health

Your family may reject you, so be prepared to redirect the conversation when you feel your parents or loved ones reacting negatively. Remind them that their mental health journey is about You wanting to be your best self and it might not have anything to do with them.

Daniel Olavarria, a licensed clinical social worker who sees clients in New York, California, and Florida, says it can be said:

No mom, no dad. It’s not your fault. The world is moving fast, things are changing and this is what people are doing now to show themselves as the healthiest version of themselves. I know you didn’t have time to take care of yourself, but thank you so much for what you did. [for me]because now I do.

However, we recognize that parents are not perfect! If your family members may have contributed negatively to your mental health, you can show compassion for their mistakes while also honoring their reality.

After sharing your diagnosis or difficulties with your family, it is important to reflect on the support you might need from them. This is also an opportunity to share where you would like to set boundaries to create a safer environment for yourself. (There’s an entire Life Kit episode on setting boundaries with family.)

After all is said and done, it can be beneficial to have a plan for how you will take care of yourself afterwards. You might want to set up a time to walk, call a friend to report, or write in a journal—anything that helps you relax. This can be one of many conversations with loved ones, so it’s important to have self-care tools for when the going gets too tough.

put yourself first

Regardless, remember to put yourself and your healing first!

Reza Cristián Moreno appears here with her grandparents, Judy Ghaffari and John Trujillo, who have been integral supports in her mental health process. (Judy Ghaffari)

While family can be very important to many of us in the Latinx community, your healing journey may or may not include them; it did not include some members of the family of Reza Cristián Moreno, 26.

She offers this advice for people whose parents aren’t as understanding and might also be going through their own healing journeys: “We grow up understanding that family values ​​are everything. But I think the advice I learned from my therapist is that it’s okay to put yourself first and your needs first.

Just because you put yourself first doesn’t mean you don’t care deeply about your parents. Gutierrez reminds us, “We may have to let people down if it means we’re healing ourselves and attending to what feels good inside of us.” Healing starts with being vulnerable, and that’s pretty brave, not selfish.


Have you talked to your Latino loved ones about mental health or therapy? Share tips that have worked for you. Send us a note at lifekit@npr.org.

Naydeline Mejia is a freelance writer and editor based in the Bronx, NY Elizabeth Mendoza is an independent producer based in Los Angeles.

The audio portion of this episode was produced by Sylvie Douglis, with engineering support from Gilly Moon.

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