September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month. CBM’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee wants to use this as an opportunity to bring attention to the unique mental health challenges experienced by Hispanic people. Generally speaking, Hispanic individuals have a higher likelihood of developing a mental disorder in their lifetime, but a significantly lower likelihood of seeking out or receiving services. This points to a lack of access to resources and culturally-appropriate treatments.

Hispanic people in the United States often need to navigate two cultures—that of the United States and of their nation of origin. While this challenge of navigating cultures can be more pronounced in immigrants, it has also been shown to create family challenges. Often, second or third generation immigrants adopt more Westernized cultural ideals while older generations prefer to adhere to the culture of their home countries. This not only can create conflict between family generations, but also conflicts within individuals themselves. Developing viewpoints that reflect the culture of the United States while also trying to maintain traditional cultural values can prove to be stressful and bring up strong emotions.  

The “dialectical” part of DBT focuses on balancing opposites. It allows two seemingly contradictory things to be true at the same time. This often results in thinking less in extremes and more balancing of the two viewpoints. In the context of Hispanic-Americans, a dialectical synthesis of cultural identities and values could allow for less cultural conflict and more focus on examining how a person can identify with and celebrate both cultures at the same time. Although there is a definite need for DBT to be further researched and adapted for various cultures, there is evidence that supports culturally-adapted mindfulness practices (a core component of DBT) aide in improving depressive symptoms, stress management, and chronic illnesses in Hispanic populations. CBM is committed to continued education of our staff and engaging in conversations to consistently improve in culturally-appropriate therapy. 

For more information:

Castellanos, R., Spinel, M. Y., Phan, V., Orengo-Aguayo, R., Humphreys, K. L., & Flory, K. (2020). A systematic review and meta-analysis of cultural adaptations of mindfulness-based interventions for Hispanic populations. Mindfulness, 11(2), 317-332.