COVID-19 causes increased anxiety, depression in Latino and Hispanic communities

Jacksonville, FL. — Dealing with COVID-19 has been challenging for many of us.

Federal surveys taken over the last several months have found the pandemic has taken a particular toll on the mental health of people in the Latino and Hispanic communities.

Action News Jax gets real about the impacts and where to turn for help.

Jacqueline Berrios sums up the last year.

“It’s been quite the crazy roller coaster ride. I know it’s been difficult for everyone,” she said.

Berrios is an essential worker, a master control operator at Action News Jax.

While she’s here in Jacksonville, her mind has been on her Cuban-Puerto Rican family spread across the world- especially those in Miami - a COVID-19 hot spot in Florida.

Berrrios said, “Being here my family being 300 miles away, I’ll talk to my mom every day. I’ll talk to my dad. I’ll talk to all my family members.”

Her brothers are firefighters and has relatives who work in health care and other essential jobs.

Some of them contracted COVID-19.

“My brother got it. My brother who lives with my mom he got it and I was absolutely terrified my heart sank.” Berrios said, “I was anxious for about a month, then my dad got I,t my stepmom got it ‚my other little brother got it. Thankfully, thank God they’re all okay.”

Berrios says the stress of worrying about her family, her boyfriend and their children has brought on anxiety and depression.

She’s not alone.

Since late April, some Americans have received federal surveys looking at the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

The surveys include questions about things like housing, employment, access to health care, food security, mental health, education disruption, travel and finances.

The data reveals about 40% of Hispanic and Latino people report dealing with anxiety or depression.

That number hit nearly 50% in November.

Black people reported the next highest numbers.

Dr. Rose Zayco is a licensed psychologist in Jacksonville.

Zayco said, ”The Latino population has just been really hit with COVID illness and deaths, the severity of the illness, as well as economic hardship related to the challenges presented by COVID are the people losing their jobs or, you know, having to work under difficult circumstances, like essential workers,”

Dr. Zayco said acknowledging mental health challenges is important, but there’s often a stigma attached to getting help especially in communities of color.

“I was literally just having this same conversation with a cousin of mine from the Philippines, and she was telling me that, you know, in the Philippines, people are considered crazy. If you seek mental health help that you’re hopeless, that you are a lost cause that you’re weak.” Dr. Zayco said,

“So the main thing that I want to say is that it, when you seek help for your mood, for your stress, for your anxiety, it’s really a strength, to get as much social support and professional support, especially dealing with all of the challenges that COVID is handing all of us.”

Berrios has a therapist and the support of her boyfriend and family.

She wants others to know they don’t have to face what they’re feeling alone.

Berrios said, “Everybody has emotions, everybody has feelings, everybody goes through difficult times. You’re a human being before anything else so the only thing you have to do is to be open and honest about it and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Dr. Zayco said you can reach out to your primary doctor for help and if you don’t have one, visit the Psychology Today website here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us to find a local therapist.

There are options to pick therapists based on ethnicity, gender and the language they speak.

Watch this video with Action News Jax Producer Darling Hill explaining how to use the website to find help en Espanol:

Or, you can follow the directions below:

Go to https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

On the homepage, go to the “Find Therapist” section and enter your city or ZIP code.

Once the list of therapists is shown, you can then filter results by several categories like gender and price.

If you click on “More,” you can choose the ethnicity of your therapist or the language you prefer.

Once you choose your preferences, the list of therapists to choose from will automatically update for you.