Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Psychiatric Association

Date of Submission

September 2020


Attitudes towards mental health medications vary, however negative perceptions are often born of normative cultural values, stigma, and religious fatalism,1-3 as well as overall demographic characteristics such as gender, nativity, and primary language.4,5 Further research suggests many Latinx adults fear negative outcomes from adhering to medication for mental health treatment, such as dependence and side effects and, instead, would prefer psychotherapy over psychopharmacology.1,2 Lastly, a lack of health literacy,6 culturally appropriate treatments and information,7 as well as barriers to care also have shown to impact attitudes towards mental health medication treatments among Latinxs.8 To date, little attention has been given to the attitudes towards mental health treatments that will either facilitate or impede using medication treatments for mental health. This qualitative study therefore explores the demographic factors and attitudes towards mental health medication treatment among 20 adult Latinxs (45% Puerto Rico, 20% El Salvador, 10% Guatemala, 10% Honduras, 15% other). Using thematic analysis, results indicated that Latinxs held positive, negative, and neutral attitudes toward mental health medication treatments. Participants who were neutral tended to be more open to treatment, however, still hesitant, indicating medication treatment as a last resort or would engage in it only if recommended by someone they trust (i.e., medical doctor or religious leader). Positive attitudes towards medication treatment were split between it being easier to take medication than talk to someone about one's problems, or the opposite; it is easier to talk to a stranger (i.e., mental health provider) than to someone who is close and trusted (i.e., religious leader). Positive attitudes were also supported through trust in medical professionals. Negative attitudes towards receiving mental health medication treatment were more cultural such that individuals suffering from mental illness should be strong enough to get through it on their own, or that one should trust in God to heal you. The participants who held negative attitudes reported more mistrust in medical professionals, including mental health providers and psychological treatment methodology. Demographically, there were no clear trends in the data for variables such as gender, age, primary language, or educational attainment. However, there was a pattern of attitudes for those who identified with a religion (n=15). Of those who identified with either Catholicism or Christianity, 60% held negative attitudes. The participants who identified with no religion (n=4) all held positive attitudes towards medication for mental health treatment. Additional research and practical implications are therefore discussed.

1. Ailinger, R. L., Martyn, D., Lasus, H., & Lima Garcia, N. (2010). The effect of a cultural intervention on adherence to latent tuberculosis infection therapy in Latino immigrants. Public Health Nursing, 27(2), 115-120.

2. Batalova, J., & Zong, J. (2016). Language diversity and English proficiency in the United States. Migration Information Source.

3. Eisenman, D. P., Meredith, L. S., Rhodes, H., Green, B. L., Kaltman, S., Cassells, A., & Tobin, J. N. (2008). PTSD in Latino patients: illness beliefs, treatment preferences, and implications for care. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(9), 1386–1392.

4. Green, B. L., Watson, M. R., Kaltman, S. I., Serrano, A., Talisman, N., Kirkpatrick, L., & Campoli, M. (2017). Knowledge and preferences regarding antidepressant medication among depressed Latino patients in primary care. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 205(12), 952–959.

5. Interian, A., Martinez, I. E., Guarnaccia, P. J., Vega, W. A., & Escobar, J. I. (2007). A qualitative analysis of the perception of stigma among Latinos receiving antidepressants. Psychiatric services, 58(12), 1591–1594. doi:10.1176/ps.2007.58.12.1591

6. Moreno, O., & Cardemil, E. (2018). Religiosity and well-being among Mexican-born and U.S.-born Mexicans: A qualitative investigation. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 6(3), 235–247,

7. Moreno, O., Nelson, T., & Cardemil, E. (2017) Religiosity and attitudes towards professional mental health services: analysing religious coping as a mediator among Mexican origin Latinas/os in the southwest United States, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 20:7, 626-637, doi:10.1080/13674676.2017.1372735

8. Peeters, B., Van Tongelen, I., Boussery, K., Mehuys, E., Remon, J. P., & Willems, S. (2011). Factors associated with medication adherence to oral hypoglycaemic agents in different ethnic groups suffering from type 2 diabetes: a systematic literature review and suggestions for further research. Diabetic medicine: A journal of the British Diabetic Association, 28(3), 262–275.

9. Shattell, M. M., Hamilton, D., Starr, S. S., Jenkins, C. J., & Hinderliter, N. A. (2008). Mental health service needs of a Latino population: A community-based participatory research project. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 29(4), 351–370.

10. Zuniga J. A. (2012). Medication adherence in Hispanics to latent tuberculosis treatment: a literature review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 14(1), 23–29,

Is Part Of

VCU Psychology Publications

Included in

Psychology Commons