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Alarming data about Hispanic High School Students Mental health

Mental health event_March 2015For second year, the Jacksonville System of Care Initiative, a grant to improve access to mental health services for children, youth and families, collaborated with community partners and organized a mental health event focusing on the Hispanic/Latino community in Jacksonville. The event,"Healthy Families, Healthy Communities:Mental Health and the Hispanic/Latino (a) Community" held this past Saturday at Florida State College Jacksonville - Deerwood Campus was directed both to mental health, primary care providers, teachers, students, faith leaders and the community at large. The event was well attended by professionals and families.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Maritza Gallardo Cooper who provided concrete strategies for culturally responsive counseling for Latino families and as well as key strategies to for mental wellness. Dr. Rivera-Ramos shared information about protective factors for Latino youth with depression symptoms such aspositive family relations, social support, sense of belonging, ethnic affiliation and religion.Other speakers included Katryne Lukens-Bull with the University of Florida College of Medicine - Center for Health Equity. Mrs. Lukens-Bull shared shocking data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey and other data sources about mental health issues, bullying, and suicide among Hispanic high school students.

Hispanic students, especially females and bisexuals reported more mental health issues than students from other ethnic background or sexual orientation:

  • 40.4% of Hispanic students reported being depressed in the last 12 months in comparison with only 28.4% White and 25.4% Black students
  • 21.5% reported contemplating the idea of suicide.
  • 20.6% planned to "die by" suicide
  • 18% attempted to "die by" suicide
  • 7.5% received medical treatment after a suicide attempt

These shocking statistics get even worse when reported bybisexualandgay/lesbianHispanic students:

  • 84.4% Hispanic bisexual teens experienced depression
  • 57.8% Hispanic bisexual teens thought about the idea of suicide
  • 43.5% Hispanic bisexual teens planned to commit suicide
  • 42.3% Hispanic bisexual teens attempted suicide and 65% gay/lesbian Hispanic did

Regarding bullying, 21.4% Hispanic students reported being bullied, 8.5% threatened and 16.5% being bullied through social media and email.  22.9% Latino students reported to be hurt by a significant other who they were dating and 18.4% reported they had been victims of rape.

Events like this in which the Jacksonville Public Education Fund participated are a clear indication that more needs to be done to learn about mental health issues facing among different groups in our city and how to engage the community at large to create more supportive systems in which our children feel supported, regardless of their sexual orientation or ethnic background.

The Jacksonville System of Care Initiative - Cultural Competency Hispanic/Latino committee is committed to reducing mental health stigma, increasing mental health literacy and promoting cultural and linguistic responsiveness with Hispanic/Latino children, youth and families. The committee is a robust committee of representatives from the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, Florida Department of Health - Duval County, Hispanic Health Council of Jacksonville, Vitas Healthcare, United Healthcare, Molina Health Care, Child Guidance Center, Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Board, Nemours Children's Clinic and University of North Florida Counseling Center.  To become involved, contact Maira Martelo at maira@jaxpef.org or Selena Webster-Bass at selenawb@coj.net.

Also, Parent Academy is offering two suicide prevention classes targeting the Hispanic community:

Thursday, April 23 from 6-7:30 p.m. Waterleaf Elementary School 450 Kernan Blvd. North Jacksonville, FL 32225

Thursday, April 30 from 6-7:30 p.m. Venetia Elementary School 4300 Timuquana Road Jacksonville, FL 32210

For more information about Parent Academy classes contact Hind Chahed at (904) 739-4891 or send an email to ParentAcademy@duvalschools.org

In addition, Full Service Schools is also providing social services to support all children in our schools, including the Hispanic students. For more information about these services you can contact Keto J. Porter, Director, Full Service Schools at (904) 390-3247 or email ketop@uwnefl.org.

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Maira Martelo, Community Mobilization Director & Selena Webster-Bass, Cultural & Linguistic Competency Educator of  Jacksonville System of Care Initiative