Obamacare: Improving Mental Health Care Accessibility for the Hispanic-American Community


By Stephen M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

This January, Obamacare will become national legislation, leading the way to America’s first universal healthcare program.

In addition to providing adequate care for all demographics,

Hispanics are expected to particularly benefit from Obamacare

according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Improved healthcare accessibility and the expansion of culturally-relevant services will make it easier for the currently 6 million uninsured Latinos to seek care including mental health treatment.

Similar to the incidence rates of the general population, about 16 percent of Latinos have reported some form of mental illness according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Unfortunately, just 1 in 11 Hispanics actually contact a mental health specialist and less than 1 in 5 will contact a general health care provider for help.

In concert with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Obamacare aims to improve those statistics by building brand new medical clinics in strongly Hispanic communities, leading to increased healthcare accessibility. In addition, the Affordable Care Act will aim for a more culturally-relevant delivery of mental health treatment which would remove the stigma so commonly associated with mental illness in the Hispanic community.

The Hispanic population is of particular importance when it comes to mental health because it is a high-risk group according to the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health. CNN


Hispanics are a high-risk group for depression, substance abuse and anxiety. About 1 in every 7 Latinos has attempted suicide. Hispanic adults and youth are also dealing with unique stressors like immigration and acculturation, according to the AMA -- which the organization said is even more of a reason to provide services that cater to this population.

The Affordable Care Act will also focus part of its efforts on “strengthening [the] cultural competency” of the existing medical community. Increased diversity within our medical system can further encourage Hispanics to seek treatment.

With Obamacare, the door to accessible healthcare – and improved mental health -- is open.


Many Latinos hold demanding jobs in industries such as construction, natural resources and maintenance according to the National Council of La Raza. Every year, these industries have a high incidence of workers’ compensation claims. While many claims are based on physical injury, some arise due to stressful working conditions that have led to depression.

With the Affordable Care Act, newly-created resources will give injured Latino workers more readily available healthcare. As a result, depression claims may be significantly reduced – leading to a more efficient workers’ compensation system and a stronger Hispanic workforce.

It’s important to note that the road to recovery starts with a desire to get better; Hispanic-Americans who suffer from mental illness are urged to take advantage of newly available resources. To learn more about workplace depression or to find out about my practice, log onto