Mental healthcare virtually nonexistent for Spanish-speakers in - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Mental healthcare virtually nonexistent for Spanish-speakers in St. Joseph and Elkhart

Joseph Vallejos is a bilingual therapist at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center in South Bend. Joseph Vallejos is a bilingual therapist at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center in South Bend.
SOUTH BEND - When Obamacare kicked-in in January, 6 million previously uninsured Latin Americans gained access to mental health care. The only problem is, very few licensed psychologists speak Spanish.

"I'm not loco," said Oaklawn Psychiatric Center Therapist Joseph Vallejos.  "Yo no estoy loco. I'm not crazy."

That's usually the first thing new clients tell Joseph Vallejos. He is one of only two bilingual therapists at Oaklawn.

"A lot of Latinos believe that if you see a therapist, you're crazy," said Vallejos.

It's a pervasive cultural stigma that Yessica Gonzalez deals with on a weekly basis at La Casa de Amistad. She speaks with two or three parents a week about where they can find help for their children.

"They're seeing that their children are really depressed," said Gonzalez. "Or not having normal behavior. They're really antisocial. They're not doing what normal kids should be doing."

But even if Gonzalez can convince Spanish-speaking parents to seek professional help for their kids, she's running out of resources to refer them to.

A recent national survey found that out of almost 600 psychologists registered with the APA, only 1 percent identify themselves as Latinos.

While nearly 1,800 registered psychologists practice in Indiana, a recent IU study found that only 26 of them can speak Spanish. There's only two in St. Joseph County and none in Elkhart County. Some local professionals offer Spanish translators, but Vallejos says that's not good enough.

"It really doesn't work," said Vallejos. "You can't have the emotions when you translate. Different gestures, different vocabulary."

As the local Spanish population continues to rise in the area, mental health cases are expected to follow.

"The latino population comes here with this American dream. But when they come here it's not a dream, it's an American nightmare."

More latinos might be willing to talk about that nightmare. The problem is, they might not have anyone to talk to.
Powered by WorldNow

Fox 28

58096 County Road 7, South
Elkhart, IN 46517

Switchboard: 574.679.9758
News Phone: 574.679.4545
Station Fax: 574.294.1267

All content ©Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSJV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Heather Stewart at (574) 343-5310. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at