Intersection of Cultural and Religious Beliefs About Mental Health: Latinos in the Faith-Based Setting

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19 Scopus citations


Introduction: Hispanics/Latinos utilize mental health care at a rate that is about half that of non-Hispanic Whites. Stigma and cultural and religious values play a significant role in mental health care utilization disparities. The purpose of this study was to explore beliefs about mental illness among Latino faith-based communities. Methods: A qualitative approach was used to explore perceptions of mental illness that were elicited during “El Buen Consejo,” a mental health literacy intervention delivered within three faith-based settings. Results: Participants were socialized to believe that persons with mental illness were dangerous, out of control, and suffering from an incurable illness that resulted in rejection and ostracism. Most families would deny the existence of depression and mental illness, unless symptoms greatly interfered with daily functioning or were life-threatening. Religious coping such as prayer, and faith in God, were believed to be protective factors. Causal attributions for depression were both biomedical and religious, such as lack of faith, not praying, demons, and sinful behaviors of parents. Conclusion: Latinos rely upon churches as a major social, educational, and spiritual resource. The cultural values among Latinos can be a source of strength but also contribute to stigma. The faith-based community is an important target for mental health literacy and antistigma interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-10
Number of pages7
JournalHispanic Health Care International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)


  • community-based participatory research
  • cross-culture
  • culture
  • depression
  • immigrant health
  • mental health


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