Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Q&A with Erica Guzman

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (also referred to as BIPOC Mental Health Month) which aims to bring awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental health in the United States. We have been sharing experiences from our staff on our social media outlets about how they take care of our BIPOC students and how they take care of themselves. 

Learn how Erica Guzman, Client & Family Support Specialist, practices self-care and her thoughts about the stigma surrounding mental health within the Latinx/Hispanic communities. 

What conversations about mental health did you have growing up? 

Growing up, mental health was not something we ever talked about in our home or do I have any recollection of anyone talking about it in schools. I remember this topic being negative and often it was associated with other beliefs but I never understood what it really was.

As an adult and working in the mental health field, I learned about the cultural stigmas associated with mental health especially in my culture. Stigma and taboos can sometimes interfere with families looking for mental health help and talking to their families about the topic. Now, I understand why mental health was never a topic of discussion in my family.

What are some things you do for your mental health?

Some of the activities that I do to care for my mental health include journaling, connecting with family and practicing self-care. 

Journaling helps me gather my thoughts, especially during busy days. While journaling, I like to write short and long-term goals. Sometimes I look back at those and they help me stay focused and give me reassurance.

I find it very important to spend time with my family which sometimes includes my extended family too. Our Mexican-American culture values family and traditionally, we will get together during the weekends and have a homemade dinner this allows me to have a good time and connect with my family since we all have busy schedules.

Lastly, self-care is important to me because often I’m having to give to others, my kids especially! I practice self-care by finding time during each month to do something nice for myself, by either getting a manicure, getting my hair done or simply walking around the mall.


What advice would you give to the Latinx/Hispanic communities regarding mental healthcare? 

Advice that I would give to our Latinx community about mental health is to become informed about mental health and talk about it with your families by including everyone like the children and grandparents. This can even be done during a family dinner or a simple gathering because this can be a healthy discussion. Talking about what mental health is and what stigmas are associated with it can be a positive form of creating awareness for the entire family. 

Often the Latinx community can face barriers because we believe that mental health care is expensive and not available, but some communities offer resources that can help those in need. If we normalize mental health discussions in our families, we can help shape what mental health can look like for our communities in the future!