Psychology Student Launches Mental Health YouTube Channel for Latinos
The Spanish-language channel aims to “demystify” mental health for Latino communities.
A new YouTube channel sets out to answer questions about mental health and wellness in Latino communities. Channel host Beverlin Rosario-Williams, a Psychology Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate Center, shares frank and open discussion on mental health topics ranging from suicide to mental illness diagnosis and treatment.
Salud Mental al Detalle — translated as “Mental Health in Detail” in English — is a Spanish-language channel that explores mental health through a sociocultural lens.
“As scientists, we generate knowledge with research,” said Rosario-Williams, a student in the Health Psychology and Clinical Science training area of the Psychology Ph.D. program. “It's not often disseminated to the communities where we do work. I thought it would be nice to bridge that gap, and provide people with information that’s scientifically sound but digestible in a way that a lay audience can understand.”
One of the channel’s first videos deals with suicide, which occurs at higher rates in some minority groups. In 2020, roughly 1.2 million adults attempted suicide in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states. That same year, about 46,000 people died by suicide.
Rosario-Williams, who covers suicidality in her Ph.D. dissertation, says that for each suicide death, there are four hospitalizations, eight emergency room visits, 27 self-reported suicide attempts, and 275 people who have seriously considered suicide. These figures don’t include the people left devastated by the suicides of loved ones.
Perhaps more troubling is that many children also take their own lives. In fact, the CDC reports, suicide was the second leading cause of death among children and teens aged 10 to 14 in 2020.
“It’s thought that kids don’t have the capacity to kill themselves. But kids, at 8 years old, understand what death and suicide is and they have the ability to think about, plan, and attempt it,” Rosario-Williams explains in Spanish during a five-minute video on child suicide.
She goes on to cite the risk factors that often precede child suicide: bullying, child abuse, neglect, history of suicide in the family, and conflict with parents, among other problems. About a third of these children struggle with depression, bipolar disorder, and other types of mental illness, she adds.
And suicide rates among Latino children have risen dramatically in the last decade. Rosario-Williams points to a January study, published in the Journal of Community Health, which reports that, from 2010 to 2019, suicide rates among Latino children 12 and younger shot up by 92%.
In Latino and other immigrant communities, long-held cultural beliefs can sometimes play a role, she said. “For parents who might be migrants and kiddos who are first generation or second generation, there may be an acculturation gap in the way that they’re experiencing their identity and the way parents are holding onto the cultural values of their native country,” Rosario-Williams said. “There can be a mismatch, which can lead to stress and thoughts of suicide.”
When mental health is a taboo subject and open communication is lacking, family can sometimes “perceive the child's cry for help as a way of manipulating,” Rosario-Williams said, noting that this can add to a child’s emotional burden. “There is a lot of fear in the Latinx community, and a lot of taboos about mental health that limit people's ability to seek mental health services,” she said.
Social media can have an impact too, through peer pressure and exposure to groups that glorify suicide, Rosario-Williams said. In any case, suicidal behavior is typically driven by multiple stressors, she said.
The channel’s other videos include “Five Things You Should Know Before Going to Therapy” and “What is a Psychological Evaluation?” Future explainers will focus on mental health diagnoses, including post-partum depression. New videos will be posted to the Salud Mental al Detalle channel each month.
Rosario-Williams says she hopes the channel can help to destigmatize mental health and mental illness in Latino communities.
“I want to demystify beliefs that people might have about mental health, so that if they’re having a problem they can seek help, or if they know of someone who's having a problem they can encourage that person to seek help,” she said.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, dial 988 to call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) or visit www.988lifeline.org to chat with a counselor. The line offers help 24 hours a day in English and Spanish.
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