|NIMH Expands Public Health Education Effort to Reach Latino
Men with Depression
Research shows the majority of Latinos fail to recognize the symptoms of depression
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes
of Health, today is launching a new effort in the Real Men Real Depression campaign — Spanish-language
materials to inform the Latino community about depression and to encourage men
who are depressed to seek help.
In the U.S., Latinos are the largest ethnic minority — a population of
over 40 million. Of this group, 40 percent reported that Spanish is their preferred
language, according to a report by the Surgeon General. The new Real Men Real
Depression materials were created to help Spanish-speaking people across the
country and from all over the world to understand more about depression, a serious
illness. As the nation’s primary mental health research agency, NIMH is dedicated
to reducing the burden of mental and behavioral disorders through research on
mind, brain, and behavior. As part of that mission, NIMH provides mental health
information to the public and, in particular, focuses on reducing disparities
in health care.
“Depression and other mood disorders cross all national, cultural, ethnic, and
gender boundaries. NIMH developed Real Men Real Depression to inform the nation
that depression can strike men just as it can strike women. Lack of awareness
about depression is a serious concern in the Latino community. Through these
new materials we hope to teach Latino men that depression is a medical condition
that affects both the mind and the body, but there is hope,” said Thomas R. Insel,
M.D., director, NIMH. “Effective treatments are available and the success rate
is very high for people who seek help and remain in treatment.”
According to the National Latino and Asian American study, 54 percent of Latino
men with at least one episode of major depression in their lifetime do not recognize
having a mental health problem. Latinos also report reluctance to getting treatment
for depression. And, like U.S.-born white males, Latino men are afraid that seeking
treatment will endanger their jobs. However, there is no evidence to show that
people do lose their jobs once they go into treatment. In fact, treatment may
be essential to improve work performance.
“Research and clinical findings reveal that women and men may talk differently — or
in the case of men, not talk — about the symptoms of depression,” said
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola M.D., Ph.D., Visiting Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine
and Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, University of California,
Davis, and member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council. “Traditional
gender roles in the Latino community may further contribute to an unwillingness
to talk about feelings of depression.”
The new materials include publications and broadcast and print public service
announcements (PSAs) in English and Spanish. The PSAs feature Rodolfo Palma-Lulión,
a recent college graduate who shared his experience with depression in the hopes
of encouraging other Latino men to talk about their depression and seek treatment.
“It took me years to understand that what I was experiencing was depression.
Getting help made such an improvement in my life,” said Pablo-Lulión. “I
hope the Real Men Real Depression campaign will help other Latino men recognize
depression in themselves and have the courage to ask for help.”
Men with depression, regardless of ethnic background, may be more likely to
turn to alcohol or drugs, or to become frustrated, angry or irritable instead
of acknowledging their feelings and asking for help. Some men may throw themselves
compulsively into their work or hobbies, attempting to hide their depression
from themselves, family, and friends; other men may respond to depression by
engaging in reckless behavior.
Real Men Real Depression was launched in April of 2003. It is the first national
public education effort to raise awareness that depression is a major public
health problem affecting an estimated six million men annually. The primary message
of the campaign’s PSAs is that it takes courage to ask for help. Real Men Real
Depression materials feature personal stories of real men from varied backgrounds.
The campaign spokesmen are Latino, African American, Asian, and American Indian
and include such professions as a firefighter, a national diving champion, a
retired Air Force sergeant, a lawyer, and a writer.
Click here for the public service announcements; the brochure, Real Men Real Depression: Estos hombres son reales. La depresíon también ; and the fact sheet, Los hombres y la depresíon.
To learn more, individuals and organizations are encouraged to call the campaign’s
toll-free number at 1-866-227-6464, which is staffed with bilingual information
specialists, and access the NIMH Web sites at www.nimh.nih.gov and http://www.menanddepression.nimh.nih.gov,
where Spanish materials are also available.
NIMH is one of the 27 components that make up NIH, the Federal Government’s
primary agency for biomedical and behavioral research. NIH is part of the Department
of Health and Human Services.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.