Roundtables #34 — It’s Hispanic Heritage Month! How are you committing to support Hispanic and Latinx mental health this month and beyond?

Jennifer Vu: Hispanic Heritage Month takes its time to celebrate the achievements of Hispanic communities and recognize the rich history of the many Latino cultures and who they are today. The dates from September 15th to October 15th encompass the many anniversaries of independence among Latin American countries, and we can utilize this time, and beyond, to be sure to support Hispanic and Latinx voices and mental health.

Hispanic Americans have played an important role in the United States — they have worked hard to achieve their goals and passions, and they do so in a way that embodies the highlights of American values, contributing to the diversity of the United States. This year’s theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope,” which I anticipate all of us take into account our origins and the aspiration we see going forward given where we come from. 

“This theme celebrates our Hispanic heritage and our resilience. It provides us the opportunity to reflect on those who came before us and held onto hope to create a better tomorrow. It inspires us to recognize that we are stronger together and reminds us that, although we are apart, with hope, we are not alone,” explained Victor Anthony Zertuche, an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we must acknowledge the struggles and prejudice Hispanic people have faced in the nation regarding their role in society and their mental health. The importance of this month is not talked about enough in our education, so this year, we should all do our best to educate ourselves on the history and significance of this month.

There are so many ways we can support Hispanic/Latino culture and mental health this time around. One way is to watch films, listen to music, and enjoy the food that captivates the essence of Latino culture. I recommend Coco, Jane the Virgin, and In the Heights for starters. Discrimination only tears people of color down, and we must do our best to uplift one another for the “melting pot” of the United States to be true to its word. It’s important to talk and listen to others to understand Latino stories, and especially those regarding mental health. A vast majority of Hispanic/Latino Americans live in underfunded areas, making it more difficult to find mental health resources. By providing different types of free and available resources for their community, their self-care is something that they can look forward to.  

Grace Martin: From September 15th to October 15th every year, the United States recognizes the history, heritage, and contributions of Hispanic Americans. Hispanic Heritage Month is significant because it allows us to take extra time to appreciate the diversity in our nation and the different cultures that made America known as “The Melting Pot.” 

But as we take time to slow down and learn about the many Hispanic cultures this month, we must also discuss the hardships and discrimination Hispanics have faced in this nation. A lot of information is missed in your history classes, and although we have more equality today than ever before, anti-Hispanic prejudice is still common, similar to many other minorities in the US. 

This discrimination hurts Hispanic Americans’ rights, and in turn, their mental health. In order to better the mental health of Hispanic Americans and other minorities, we mustn’t mute the discussion of their struggles and challenges. We must uplift and highlight their cultures and experiences. This month, as the Student Council President of my high school, I am interviewing members of the Hispanic community, students and faculty alike, and posting their responses on our social media pages. To make my school more inclusive, I feel that it is important to appreciate and spread the many cultures that make up my community. 

The response from my peers has been nothing but positive so far. One of my peers commented, “I feel appreciated,” on the first of these posts. If I am making the voices of different communities in my school heard, I am doing my job correctly. I am honored to have the opportunity to make my school a safer place for minorities, allowing us to learn in an equal, unprejudiced place.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, take the time to research more about Hispanic cultures and other cultures different from your own. Talk to your friends, family, and coworkers or simply do the research online. The better we understand one another, the closer we will become as a community and as a nation. 

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