My Name is Ilan Shapiro, I was born in a small city, called México City, a father, pediatrician and Medical Director for Health Education and Wellness at AltaMed.
I’m extremely humbled to have a great team Veronica O. and Sandy N. that in synergy we share education and wellness with our community. Also, with #Pantaleon and #LionsGate por abrir una conversación tan difícil con nuestra comunidad por medio de #LasPildorasdeMiNovio
Since the times of my Abuelita, mental health carried a big burden on the person affected and their family. This movie opens that conversation in the community of how none of us can separate our bodies from our minds.
My Abuelita tried to cure a lot of things with vick vapor rub and te de manzanilla (and sometimes a touch of violeta valenciana), but mental health does not respond to that.
Mental health is not a taboo subject. We must, as a community, come together and have an open conversation about mental health and its impact on a person, on families and our society at-large.
When a patient comes to me has a pulled muscle, and I send them to Physical therapy with the recommendation on certain medications, there is no doubt on what to do.
Why is it so different when there is a chemical imbalance in the brain causing a big shift in mental health and I recommended medication and therapy, why is it so hard to have that conversation?
The stigma against mental illness is real. If you have any doubt, consider there is a median delay of 10 years between the onset of mental health symptoms and receiving healthcare. One reason for this delay is that people try to hide their mental illness due to the fear of being judged.
Each one of us needs to play a role to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. Here are three ways to make an impact.
1. Education- In 2017, there were an estimated 46.6 million adults in the United States with mental illness. This number represents about 1 in 5 adults.
2. Empathy- Refrain from judgement. Suffering from mental illness can become so unbearable that it affects one’s ability to function. One may even experience suicidal thoughts in an effort to escape the suffering.
3. Advocacy- Be an advocate for raising mental health awareness. Support groups that advocate, educate and care for individuals and families affected by mental illness.
Putting this in context Almost 18% of the US is Latino, 15% have a diagnosable mental illness, that is 8.9 million people, MORE THAN the population of NY City
• U.S.-born Hispanics report higher rates for most psychiatric disorders than Hispanic immigrants.
• Studies have shown that older Hispanic adults and Hispanic youth are especially vulnerable to psychological stresses associated with immigration and acculturation
• Approximately 1 in 10 Hispanics with a mental disorder use mental health services from a primary care physician, while only 1 in 20 receive such services from a mental health specialist.
Several studies have found that bilingual patients are evaluated differently when interviewed in English as opposed to Spanish and that Hispanics are more frequently undertreated.
At AltaMed Health Services is the nation’s largest federally qualified community health centers in the nation. We have 52 sites across Los Angeles and Orange counties serving more than 300,000.
Understanding the need, nearly a decade ago, AltaMed began integrating behavioral health services into the primary care, because we recognized that mental health affects every aspect of a person’s well-being. This type of model in vulnerable communities can help start the healing process, and we’ve had the opportunity to provide services to thousands of underserved patients in the past years under the leadership of Dr. Sandra Pisano.
We all can miss the symptoms that are happening to our loved ones or even to us; some of these mental health challenges do not present as an obvious rash, a fever or a cough. We do not have a straightforward blood lab test for a diagnosis– but we do have a lot of people who can help identify the symptoms. It starts with you– we can all make a difference. We can help ourselves and help our loved ones by letting them know we care and there’s access to help.
We are amazingly well versed in chisme language; let’s spread the word that is ok to feel different, the same way that people have migraines, people can be depressed, have adhd/add or anxiety. Do be afraid to ask if someone is acting differently, maybe, just maybe, because you showed that you cared, you are saving a life.