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The KUNM news team's coverage of the 2020 legislative session and its impacts

Young Latino People In N.M. Facing High Rates Of Behavioral Health Concerns

From a Minneapolis demonstration

Latino youth are feeling psychological impacts of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, researchers say. A committee of legislators in New Mexico on Wednesday considered how this problem impacts the state and weighed increasing access to Medicaid.

University of New Mexico Professor Lisa Cacari-Stone from the College of Population Health spoke before lawmakers. She listed alarming statistics about young Latino people that are especially bad here: spikes in the rates of depression, self-harm and substance abuse that can be linked to discrimination, violence and isolation. But she spoke of cultural antidotes, too. 

"Family cohesion, familismo, personalismo—having that warmth, that cariñosas that our families have," she said. "I want to highlight that academic achievement and social support are critical for our young people to feel like they belong."

National research is showing that young Latino people are experiencing behavioral health fallout at higher rates than almost any other youth demographic. Cacari-Stone’s team asked lawmakers to consider supporting legislation in January that would make it so more immigrants can access Medicaid—and therefore behavioral health care. And they pushed for a measure that would allow professional and occupational licensure for people, regardless of their status.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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