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Mi nombre es Alex López, soy de Buenos Aires, Argentina, vine a vivir a los Estados Unidos hace 10 años.

Estudié en la Universidad de Buenos Aires y me recibí con un Masters en Psicología Clínica y luego comencé a hacer un Doctorado en la Universidad de Tennessee en Knoxville, en Psicología Educacional.

He trabajado durante muchos años con personas Americanas y personas Hispanas en el campo de la salud mental y del trabajo social y comencé hace muy poco a trabajar en Brookhaven.

Estoy disfrutando mucho de esta experiencia aquí, me gusta mucho éste lugar, ofrecen un programa holístico en donde integran elementos espirituales, emocionales y ven a la persona como un todo y me gustaría mucho en quizás ser la persona en darle la bienvenida a personas hispanas que puedan venir a Brookhaven, están invitados y son más que bienvenidos y los trataremos con mucho cariño.

My name is Alex Lopez, I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I came to live to the United States 10 years ago.

I studied in the University of Buenos Aires and I was received with a Masters in Clinical Psychology and soon I began to make a Doctorate in the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, in Educational Psychology.

I have been working during many years with American people and Hispanic people in the field of the mental health and the social work and began to work for Brookhaven not long ago.

I am enjoying very much this experience here, I like much this one place, it offers a holistic program in where they integrate spiritual elements, emotional and they see the person as a whole, and I would like much perhaps in being the person in giving the welcome to the Hispanic people who can come to Brookhaven, they are invited and they are more than welcome and we will treat them by far affection.

Culturally Specific, Caring Treatment Plan

Coming to the United States from Argentina ten years ago, I underwent a huge adjustment period when I first arrived. Though most people may think that the biggest difference one must confront when moving to a new country would be the language barrier, this isn't always true, even when living in the new country does require learning a new language, I believe it to be more the culture tied to the language.

In all countries, there is a stigma in which people who are mentally ill are labeled as “crazy.” However, In the United States, I believe people who are mentally ill have more access to specialized mental health services and quite possibly, have more early interventional care when it comes to mental health services, given many Latin countries' tendency to have strong nuclear families who care for family members themselves.

In my case, as a therapist, I found profound differences in the way that people with mental health issues were treated in the United States as opposed to my home country of Argentina due to the fact that we have a socialist medical system in Argentina. While I believe that more people have access to overall higher quality medical care, including mental health services, there is no class discrepancy that prevents the disadvantaged from receiving the same quality care as everyone else. Because of the universal coverage, a patient may not receive the most individualized, cutting edge care. In my opinion, this is where I find the biggest difference as a provider.

In addition, as someone who serves as an expert in the field, it appeared to me, after being in the United States, that there was a much greater prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse issues that pervaded all socio-economic classes. Whereas in Argentina the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance abuse was more prevalent in the lower socio-economic classes, it seemed that in the United States that the socio-economic factor was much less of an issue when it came to the prevalence of these illnesses.

Treatment of many mental illnesses is also very different here in the United States. For example, if a person is truly clinically depressed, it is much less likely that they will seek the professional help of a clinician in my country. Many times they will seek the advice of their family, their church, ingest some herbal remedies, they will engage in more physical activity, take a vacation from work, or perhaps seek psychotherapy, but they are much less likely to seek the help from a psychiatrist and receive psychotropic medication for this type of condition. Not that I don't believe that people in my country aren't aware that depression isn't a veritable medical condition, however, they tend to treat many of the factors that might exacerbate it before considering treating it medically.

I think that having worked with the Hispanic community here in the United States, I found that they are often very reluctant to seek any type of services of any kind-whether they be legal, medical, or social services. I feel that they are distrustful of providers for many reasons: perhaps the country they come from had a very corrupt system, they are frightened because of their immigration status, or they do not have a command of the English language and seeking services may be embarrassing and frustrating to them.

When it comes to mental health services in particular, the Hispanic population here in the United States tends to be very private about this issue, and VERY reluctant to discuss this topic with anyone, even a professional, even when they realize they do indeed have a mental health diagnosis. However, given the majority of Hispanics in the United States today are socio-economically disadvantaged, as well as face a language barrier that keeps them from the media overload that we receive about the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse, many do NOT realize that they have a problem that there is help for, nor do they realize that there are Spanish-speaking professionals, like myself, that want to help them, with an individualized, culturally specific, caring treatment plan.