Children of immigrants can face numerous challenges — from concerns over immigration legislation to the ingrained custom of staying silent over mental health struggles. For a college and high school student in Norwalk, Connecticut, the pandemic worsened existing challenges with depression.

“Last year I learned how much we can forget that it exists,” said Tatiana Rivera, a student at Norwalk Community College. “We ignore that events can affect our mental state and it’s important for us to raise awareness.”

Taitana is currently on DACA. She explained that coming to America from a different country can be deeply stressful. Being on DACA can increase that stress, she added.

People that are in the same position as Tatiana, know that moving to a new place isn’t always easy, with parents adjusting to a new job, children going to a new school and numerous other changes. But for children of immigrants, potentially having to flee their own country due to a bad environment, the challenges can be increased.  Tatiana said: ”You’re always on the edge with DACA. They either take it away or you keep it.” Having to watch the news every time Congress made a decision about DACA  made her question if she would  be allowed to stay in the U.S.   

With the pandemic forcing people to isolate inside their homes , Latinos dealt with increased mental health challenges. According to the CDC, ”during lockdown people felt isolated or lonely which can increase stress and anxiety.”

Despite the myriad of struggles people were experiencing, many stayed silent about mental health challenges. Within Hispanic culture, parents can keep trauma to themselves and not seek the help they need. This custom can cause parents to neglect their own childrens’ mental well-being. Liz Mary Tejada, a 15-year-old high school student in Norwalk who was recently diagnosed with depression. She said: ”I feel like a lot of Hispanic parents don’t understand. You can go to them about feeling depressed and wanting to go into therapy. Then they will tell me that: “you have nothing to be sad about and you don’t know how it feels to be sad.’”  

Some of the reasoning behind Latinos choosing to ignore their mental health can be attributed to the situation in their home country . Since poverty is a problem in many immigrants’ home countries, they cannot afford to get therapists or other help for their mental health.

Liz stated: ”I have cousins back home who are diagnosed with depression and bipolar issues, but for them they don’t have the same advantage as us since therapy is a lot of money back home.”

Tatiana explained that due to the lack of mental health resources, many Latinos can turn to religion.  According to the Pew Research Center, “83% of Hispanics claim religious affiliation, a share slightly higher than that seen among the general public (80%).” Tatiana is Catholic and was raised with a strong religious affiliation.

She said about her parents’ view of mental health: “I think they see it as something that’s scary to talk about. It’s something that doesn’t exist to them and it’s more of a spiritual problem.”