Adelante, Inc. is pointing to recent mental health data among
Latinos living in Lucas County to urge the community to seek
mental health help and to encourage others to eliminate the
stigma attached to seeking such services.
A Healthy Lucas County survey to be released in December shows
some alarming numbers among Latinos locally and their present
mental health status:
Four percent (4%) of Lucas County Latino adults considered
attempting suicide in the past year.
During the past year, 29% of Latino adults had a period of two
or more weeks when they felt so sad, blue, or depressed.
Twenty-seven percent (27%) of Latino adults experienced four or
more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in their lifetime.
Thirty-three percent (33%) of Lucas County Latino adults rated
their mental health as not good for four or more days in the
“The scary thing is that the numbers are out there to show
during a time that we’re in a national pandemic, but the reality
is, they’re there, they’re always there,” said Sabina
Elizondo-Serratos, Adelante executive director. “It
shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to open our eyes for more folks
to feel like this is an issue.”
Adelante has offered mental health and support services during
the pandemic, but plans to step up its efforts to meet what Ms.
Elizondo-Serratos calls an underlying demand. Many Latinos
continue to resist seeking services because of the ongoing
stigma attached to doing so, even though the survey shows high
numbers suffering childhood trauma, the isolationism associated
with the pandemic and its resulting mental health issues, along
with anxiety and uncertainty related to job loss and the
“Whenever we have data like this, I like to share it because
it’s real, it’s raw, and it helps support what we’ve known in
the field all along,” she said, admitting Adelante’s phones
“starting to ring off the hook” shortly after the pandemic
But many people simply weren’t ready then to be connected to
services through the nonprofit agency’s behavioral health
navigator program. The stigma of mental health likely prevented
others from following through, contends Ms. Elizondo-Serratos.
So the social isolationism brought on by COVID-19 by forcing
everyone to stay home and numerous canceled events only made
matters worse for many Latino individuals and families.
“This data underscores the dire need and the ongoing commitment
from Adelante and
partners to offer hope, embrace unity and eliminate stigma
associated with seeking mental health services.
Adelante continues in the goal of providing
support and aspires to remain the beacon of light for families
who have experienced loss, depression and sadness, addiction and
adverse childhood experiences (ACES) in their lifetime,” stated
a recent Adelante email promoting “a walking billboard
campaign” that will serve as a fundraiser for the agency.
Those billboards will be T-shirts sold by Adelante with messages
of hope and unity that will be worn across the community. The
aim is to show Latinos suffering in silence that they are not
alone and getting help for mental health issues is normal and
more common than they think. The campaign will begin November
1 in honor of El Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). To
some degree, the billboard campaign will replace the César
Chávez Humanitarian Award fundraiser canceled last month due to
The timing of the campaign may be more crucial than first
realized, with a recent resurgence in the numbers of new
COVID-19 cases and the possibility of renewed restrictions.
Add to that the usual pressure and stress of the upcoming
holiday season, which could combine to deeply affect Latinos who
already may be experiencing uncertainty and anxiety in their
“The feeling of the unknown, not knowing where that next meal is
going to come from, not being eligible for unemployment, and
everybody working from home—all of these different variables
have come into play,” said Ms. Elizondo-Serratos. “Those folks
who are in active recovery still need to be connected to those
lifeline support groups. They need to have that reinforcement in
their lives. Otherwise, relapse is going to heighten on a much
Adelante has continued support group meetings during the
pandemic, often holding them outdoors at parks, where social
distancing also could happen. But there’s a long way to go to
turn the tide of the stigma attached to mental health within the
“I don’t think it’s turning yet. I think we still have a ways to
go,” said Ms. Elizondo-Serratos. “What we’re determining in our
initial conversations with people we’re calling is ‘What do I do
now? What do I do next?’ That anxiety can lead into depression
The resurgence in COVID-19 cases will force many families to ask
tough questions about the upcoming holiday season. Is it safe to
gather in a large group as a family at Thanksgiving and
Christmas, or other Holiday events? How are we going to provide
a happy holiday for our kids when I’m not back to work yet? Even
Latino nonprofits are struggling with where to turn and how to
raise funds to provide the traditional meals for families in
need this holiday season, Adelante among them.
“The reality is, we don’t know either,” said Ms.
Elizondo-Serratos. “I’m hopeful some things will start coming up
to where we can provide some type of peace to the families who
are still struggling day to day.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Support Adelante’s “Calabaza Extravaganza,”
scheduled at its parking lot on Thursday, October 29, at 4:00pm
to 6:00pm. Join the fun, carving and painting pumpkins. The
Adult with the best costume wins a prize. RSVP by October 23.
ON THE INTERNET: www.adelantetoledo.org