Published Date: July 22, 2021

Summary: The Latinx population is diverse, with unique experiences, cultural backgrounds, and demographic profiles. However, most research examines the Latinx ethnic groups as a single, homogeneous group. To better understand the mental health needs of this diverse population, this policy brief uses data from the 2015–2019 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to examine the unmet mental health needs across adult Latinx ethnic groups in California.

Findings: Nearly half (45%) of all Latinx adults who felt they needed mental health services experienced unmet need for mental health care. That unmet need ranged from 38% among South Americans to 56% among Puerto Ricans. In another measure of mental health need, 6 out of 10 (61%) of all Latinx adults with serious or moderate psychological distress had unmet need for mental health care; among the ethnic groups, the rate ranged from one-half (52%) of South American adults to three-quarters (75%) of Central American adults (excluding Salvadoran adults).

These findings emphasize the importance of examining variation within the Latinx population by ethnic groups to identify and help meet the disparate needs of these populations. Policy recommendations that may help reduce unmet mental health needs among diverse Latinx ethnic groups include promoting mental health literacy, increasing access to culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services, and supporting policies on collecting and reporting disaggregated data on Latinx ethnic groups.​

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