Mental Health Awareness and the Latino Community



The month of May is Mental Health Awareness month


“Latinos are no different when it comes to prevalence of mental health conditions when compared to the rest of the population. However, your concerns or experiences and how you understand and cope with these conditions may be different.” –NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Oftentimes people take a long time accepting the fact that any kind of mental illness is an illness and it needs to be treated accordingly. Once this fact is accepted the search for doctors and facilities begins. Before treatment can commence the problem must be acknowledged. At times, members of the Hispanic community believe that mental problems can be managed by the affected person on their own and if they do not get better it is because they are not putting enough effort into pulling themselves out of black hole.


“If you have heart problems; diabetes; cancer or whatever, we are quick to accept it because it is seen as being a physical problem,” Dr. Paul Daniel  Executive Director of Center Associates in Marshalltown, IA, explained about the false beliefs about mental illness. “But if it is in the head, it is assumed that a person should be able to control and manage it.  FALSE. Many struggle with chemical imbalances and in seeking treatment with counseling and proper psychopharmacological medications, we attempt to balance out the imbalances in the brain.”

He said that especially among Hispanic population it is hard to get people to trust. One should find the way to develop trust with the community and help them understand that it is very important for patients with mental health issues to search out help they need.

“With the Hispanic population, it is about building trust and helping them understand that mental illness is not just a made-up word,” Dr. Daniels stated. “Letting them know it is safe to seek services is crucial.”


Center Associates with offices located in Marshalltown and Toledo is the place that serves three counties in Iowa and it staffed with licensed professionals. According their website, “Center Associates is one of the longest serving mental health centers in the state” of Iowa. Here, patients seeking help for their mental health issues will receive help from licensed psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and psychiatric nurse practitioners.

“We are outpatient center that provides counseling and medication management for all those struggling with mental illness,” Paul Daniels, Executive Director of Center Associates in Marshalltown, IA, explained.


Paul Daniel is also licensed mental health counselor with 25-year experience.

To help people with mental health problems is a calling because one must be willing to listen to other person’s secrets and darkest experiences of their lives. Dr. Paul Daniel sees his profession as an opportunity to help others change their lives for the better.


“I want to make a difference in the lives of people, to help them understand the way they think and the way they feel, impacts the way they behave,” Dr. Daniel explained why he does what he does. “Quite simple.  Thinking plus feeling equals actions. There are countless other rewards in helping people but the main goal is to have compassion and offer hope to the hopeless; strength to the weak; and show that there is a purpose and meaning in life.”

Dr. Daniel explained that Center Associates is a place where they provide services for children and adults.

“We help with Jail Diversion, Integrated Health Services, provided mental health counseling in schools in our county, provide education on mental health topics in our community, work with Headstart and Early Headstart and much more activates occur at our agency,” Dr. Daniel shared.

They also can treat emergencies like psychosis, suicidal patients or simply put all mental patients. Depending on the seriousness of the illness, Center Associates will provide long term or short-term treatment. When it comes to it and a patient needs specific facility to help then Center Associates will proved necessary references.


According to the NAMI website as a community, Latinos are less likely to seek mental health treatment. A 2001 Surgeon General’s report found that only 20% of Latinos with symptoms of a psychological disorder talk to a doctor about their concerns. Only 10% contact a mental health specialist. Yet, without treatment, certain mental health conditions can worsen and become disabling.


Finding the right provider especially one that speaks your language can be a challenge. That is why the office of Latino Affairs has created a list of Bilingual Mental Health Providers in the state of Iowa  that can be found on their website at:



Sonia Reyes-Snyder the director of the office of Latino Affairs told us about the importance of Mental Health Awareness in our community.


The Latino community has been conditioned to “just forget or get over” traumatic events, this mentality hurts us because then we don’t seek help and to deal with the effects of trauma we can fall on alcohol, drugs and other risky behavior to cope” she said.


“Throughout the years that  I have been working with Latinx youth and their families the constant need that I keep seeing is access to mental health services that is culturally specific and in the language of the clients” Reyes-Snyder added about the need of the resource list of bilingual providers.


Mental illness is a serious issue that requires the right care. The good thing is that the help is available.

For more information about Mental Health visit

For more information about Center Associates visit their website at The Marshalltown Office is located at 9 North 4th Avenue, Marshalltown, IA. Phone number is (614) 752-1585. Office hours are Monday from 8 Am to 7 PM and Tuesday through Friday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Tama Office is located at 1309 S. Broadway, Toledo, IA. Phone number is (614) 484-5234. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM. Center Associates accepts Iowa Medicaid.


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