While Latinx communities are not immune to dealing with mental health conditions, they’ve long struggled with exactly how to open up about the realities of living with anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness. A 2011 study revealed that Latinx individuals are generally less likely to report mental health concerns, and, although Latinx communities show similar susceptibility to mental illness as other populations, we unfortunately “experience disparities in access to treatment and in the quality of treatment we receive,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
That’s a large part of why Adriana Alejandra Alejandre, a 27-year-old licensed marriage and family therapist, created Latinx Therapy, a podcast dedicated to all things relating to mental health within Latinx communities.
“I had been having a hard time finding bilingual resources, so at first I created a Facebook group with Latinx therapists,” the California-based Mexican-Guatemalan told FIERCE. “I took the initiative to do research and find evidence-based resources in Spanish. Then when I couldn’t find certain things, I would translate it myself and provide it for my group of therapists.”
She began learning about podcasts from her boyfriend, who listened to them regularly. Intrigued, she started studying the art of the medium. Originally, her plan was “to interview anyone that had struggled with something and overcame it,” but she shifted the focus of the podcast to make it more of a resource.
“I rerouted to create a podcast for my clients to have access to therapeutic and professional material,” Alejandre explains. “After ending sessions with my clients, I would be uneasy because I wanted more information for them, and not just from me. So I created this podcast as an interview-based podcast to do this — it was a much better idea.”
What questions do you have about Bipolar Disorder? Elena will be answering them for you! Often, in the Latinx community, personality disorders are not taken seriously or even believed in. In most homes religion is the only answer, including in Elena’s home. She will share her family’s beliefs and her professional answers about treatment recommendation, medication, resources and myths! So close to launching! #bipolardisorder #mentalillness #psychiatricnurse #mentalhealthawareness #latinx #latinos #siamisaludmental #latinxtherapypod
Alejandre’s path to becoming a therapist was not exactly planned or clear-cut. She originally studied business administration but switched majors after taking a few psychology courses.
“The class that opened my eyes was Abnormal Psychology because not only was it easy for me to digest the information; human behavior just made sense,” Alejandre says.
But she ultimately decided on becoming a therapist to secure a future for her son. “The fall quarter after I had my son, I scheduled my classes back-to-back Wednesday to Thursday so that I could go back home to Los Angeles Thursday night and be with him until Wednesday morning,” she says. “The on-campus daycare was full, and sitters were too expensive for me at that time. I did that for two years to complete my studies on time.”
The hard work and hustle paid off. Alejandre is a full-time therapist at a private practice in Porter Ranch, Calif., who’s able to give her clients the attention they need while also balancing life as a mother. Now with Latinx Therapy, Alejandre is expanding her résumé to include podcast producer. And although it’s just a few weeks old, Latinx Therapy has already received some notable attention.
“I am definitely surprised. I did not expect the responses I am getting,” Alejandre says. “The day I launched, literally a few hours after, a rep from Apple reached out to feature me on the homepage of the Apple Podcasts app. They gave me the biggest feature alongside Oprah’s podcast.”
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Strangers told Alejandre that they discovered Latinx Therapy through this feature and that they were “so happy” to have found a podcast they could relate to.
“My first session was ‘When La Chancla Crosses the Line,’ which explores child abuse, and my inboxes were filled with personal stories of the chancla and what they have had to overcome,” Alejandre says. “Some stories were of family members who received this type of abuse and how it impacted them. Horrific stories were shared, and I know people were triggered. But after checking in with those individuals, many had the same response along the lines of needing to stay in the moment of feeling triggered because this topic has been pushed aside for too long. Even organizations reached out thanking me.”
When it comes to her grand vision for the podcast, Alejandre says that she’s just proud to have created a platform that people are finding useful.
“There is clearly a need,” she says. “My dream is for this information to be heard by all Latinx individuals because it is not a podcast where anyone is being shamed. [I want] to continue providing psychoeducation so that our community can grow and the generations to come can benefit and grow up in a stronger and healthier household both externally and internally.”
Alejandre plans to create therapeutic and professional content for Latinx individuals of all ages, and she’s most eager to explore the psychological perspectives of parents born in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
We are starting off with some much needed historically charged topics. This is just one of them. Child abuse is something that is normal in the culture— or at least it was for the most part. La chancla is symbolic of other punishment methods. Both Maritza and I specialize in abuse and trauma, both in children and adults. Submit your questions on here, through email or the website via an audio message. #mentalhealth #saludmental #hablamos #parenting #ptsd #trauma #abuse #podcast #latinx #latinos #latinas #lachancla #supportbrownpodcasts #staytuned #launchingsosoon
“There is so much of a cultural and generational difference,” she explains. “And they are doing their best to keep up with this era, but there are many layers from various countries that impacts that day-to-day thinking and living. This is the reality of it.”
Overall, she’s confident that every topic covered in Latinx Therapy is beneficial for a wide range of audiences — from helping parents of all ages, to focusing on teenagers and young children, to understanding life as a modern-day millennial. “My lineup is fire,” she says.
And hopefully Latinx Therapy can be a tool that helps people within our community bridge the gaps that exist in the space of mental health awareness.
“There are pockets of the Latinx community that are hyper aware and that are doing their best to come in for therapy and create a healthier generation,” Alejandre says. “Then there are individuals with the stigmatized mentality of turning the other way and shaming others — and probably themselves — because they do not believe in mental health realities.”