At our recent digital drop-in, Digital Tools and Mental Health for the Latine/Latinx Community, we centered on the mental health needs of the Latinx community, best practices for therapists working with Latinx clients, and the role  technology can play in supporting this community. 


The Latinx community Luis Cornejo & Cynthia Flores

The Latinx community is diverse and ever growing, with a current population of 52 million, or 16.7% of the U.S population. Latinx individuals represent one of the largest “minority” groups in the country. Although Latinx is used as an umbrella term, Latinx individuals are from a diversity of countries and cultures. There is also a diversity of challenges facing Latinx individuals, which can impact mental health and wellness. These may include trauma, feeling stuck between two cultures, imposter syndrome, distrust of the system, internalized oppression, and other stressors related to religious and cultural expectations. 


Working with Latinx clients Luis Cornejo & Cynthia Flores

The Therapist/Client relationship is crucial for all clients. For therapists working with Latinx clients, it is particularly crucial as many Latinx individuals do not trust systems, including health care. Take time to develop a relationship and refrain from making judgements or assumptions about culture, religion, family, or the unique experience of first generation Latinx born individuals. One of the main reasons Latinx individuals don’t return to therapy is because they report not feeling understood by the therapist. 


Acknowledge that many Latinx cultures have been healing for hundreds of years. Do not assume that therapy is a client’s first time “doing the work.” Instead, ask clients how they have coped, who has motivated them, values, and any traditional/family practices that support their mental health. It is so important for therapists to have an understanding of how systemic, institutional, intergenerational and historical oppression and trauma impacts the Latinx community, individually, interpersonally and collectively. Learn more about common areas of focus and best practices for working with Latnix clients here. 


The Role of Technology Rosa Hernandez-Ramos

Due to financial, contextual, institutional, and systemic barriers, about 69% of Latinx do not receive the mental health support they need. Technology may offer one solution to address the unmet mental health need. About 75% of Latinx own a smartphone, which increases the potential to use mobile phone-based support to add on to, or expand beyond, traditional mental health services. 


However, reduced access to sufficient internet and limited digital literacy skills, amongst Latinx, may be barriers for getting support through technology. Latinx are often classified as smartphone-dependent; meaning that due to limited broadband access, they rely on their smartphone’s data plan to use the internet. Latinx immigrants who are smartphone-dependent tend to not have the digital literacy skills necessary to download, navigate, and use apps. It’s important for app developers to understand the digital profiles of end-users when they are designing interventions, to create interventions that can be used by all members of the community. It’s also important for clinicians to understand the digital skills of their client, to help them choose an app or technology that is the right fit. 


In addition to making digital mental health tools accessible, we also need them to be applicable. Many digital mental health tools are designed for and tested with WEIRD populations (Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic). Culture plays a big role in how individuals deal with mental health challenges. Tools geared towards Latinx should be both culturally congruent and linguistically appropriate. 


Mental Health Apps for the Latinx community 

The One Mind PsyberGuide team looked at mental health apps that had Spanish translations, and picked three that had appropriate, comprehensive Spanish content available: Lumosity, Sanvello, and MyLife Meditation (formerly Stop, Breathe & Think). A downloadable toolkit with information on these apps, which could be shared as a resource with clients, can be found here.



Some other helpful resources for Spanish speakers  include: 


To view the full discussion at our drop in, you can view the recording [here]. If you’re interested in joining the conversation on digital mental health, we’d love for you to join us! See all of our upcoming events here.