Report: Hispanics less likely to seek help for mental health issues

Published: Mar. 29, 2016 at 4:02 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 31, 2016 at 11:11 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A recent study suggests Hispanics are almost half as likely to seek help for mental illness than any other group.

Experts said in a community like Tucson, where Hispanics are a significant part of the population, that low number is concerning.

[SLIDESHOW: 15 fast facts about mental health in America]

KOLD News 13 spoke with one local who's been battling mental health issues for decades. He said the decision to get help was the best he's ever made.

"Once you get to this spot, you never want to turn back," said 48-year-old Ralph Romero.

Romero said he attempted suicide 14 times in 43 years. The first came when he was only 5 years old.

He said it took him decades to get help for thing like depression and anxiety.

"We're embarrassed about it - the stigma," Romero said. "It followed us, we didn't want anyone to know we're sick."

Clark Romans, the Executive Director or NAMI Southern Arizona, said Hispanics don't like to tell anyone about mental health issues.

"The stigma is even greater because these cultures tend to want to fix the problem by themselves," Romans said. "It's tough because these are very complex disorders."

Romero said not getting help was what brought him to a dark place.

"I was disappearing for days, for months, not knowing who I was or where I was," he said.

Then one day he said a light came on, a calling to get on the right path.

"It was the best thing I ever did," he said.

Romero said he's turned a corner now, thanks to the support of his family combined with counseling.

He is now traveling, talking about his journey and trying to getting other Hispanics to throw that stigma out the window.

"Go learn about it, understand it before you put it down," Romero said.

That is something Romans said can be an inspiration to a group that desperately needs it.

"You can be a contributing member of the whole society, especially for your minority colleagues," he said.

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