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“Barriers of Mental Health in Undocumented Latinos”

Author: Ashley Perez

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE


As from August 2020, the percentage of adults with a mental illness was 36.4% and since then it has been significantly increasing through February of 2021 to 41.5% according to the CDC. As rates of mental health continue to grow in the United States, this study aims to review what is being said about mental illness as it relates to Latinos. Focusing on both documented and undocumented Latinos as a general population. For example, documented Latinos are able to apply to Medicaid and Medicare while undocumented Latinos are not eligible for those programs. In accordance with the US Census Bureau, the number of Latino people is projected to grow to 28.6% for the entire population by 2060. As the population continues to grow, it is critical that mental health services are increased to be able to reach and support the growing Latino communities in the United States. The method(s) used in this search are literature reviews of academic articles over the past 17 years. Looking into studies that focused on the Latino population as it relates to mental health rates and resources for both documented and undocumented Latinos for both documented and undocumented Latinos. In order to combat specific barriers to mental health services that undocumented Latinos face, advocacy is necessary to provide communities with the resources needed to improve mental health. Medicare and Medicaid ( specific policy) exclusively remove undocumented Latino from the framework. Policy recommendation would be to include the undocumented Latino population within healthcare policies to include this population. A common factor in the findings of this study was the lack of scientific research that involved the Latino population and mental health. Specifically with lack of representation in studies that include the mental health of the undocumented Latino population in the United States. To push for these changes it is necessary to increase access to mental health services for the Latino population in the United States, there must be a push to begin to include the undocumented Latino population in research that focuses on mental health to accurately represent the Latino population.

Keywords: Latino, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Undocumented, Documented, Advocacy, mental health services