Breaking down intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health

Breaking down intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health

Intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health create a large barrier to accessing behavioral healthcare among today’s youth. Intergenerational trauma is a term used to describe the impact of psychological distress through several generations. The intergenerational transmission of trauma is a possible result of stigma surrounding getting treatment for mental health concerns. This stigma stems from inaccurate or misleading media representations of mental illness such as stereotypes and prejudices that people with mental illness are dangerous, incompetent, or unpredictable. Additionally, those with mental illness face discrimination such as not getting hired or receiving worse health care. As a result, many people have negative attitudes and internalized shame about their own condition, and many others have a negative outlook on those with mental illness, decreasing the chances of receiving treatment. Consequently, around forty percent of people with mental illness do not receive treatment. This can lead to their kids inheriting a susceptibility to a mental illness as people who have a family member with a mental illness may be more likely to develop one themselves.

Moreover, stigma around mental illness is especially an issue in some ethnic communities. Underutilization of mental health care services is common among Asian Americans due to stigma that has resulted from cultural values of collectivity and filial piety as opposed to American values of independence. Other barriers include lack of adequate health insurance, limited linguistically accessible services, and distrust of the mental healthcare system. Stigma and discrimination often worsen symptoms and likeliness of receiving treatment and can lead to reduced hope, lower self-esteem, and difficulties with social relationships. In order to combat this issue, it is important that we take the time to educate ourselves about mental illness, educate others , challenge myths and stereotypes, give support to people, and find more ways to practice inclusion.

In some ways, our world has become more accepting of the diversity new generations largely embrace. On the other hand, an intersectional identity can often make seeking help within your community more difficult. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, “Culturally Competent Care” is vital in breaking down these barriers of inequity that have long restricted access to youth mental health resources. Long-standing racial discrimination, especially for Latinx, African-American, and Native American children in the healthcare system has made it difficult to break the stigma in the past. In fostering inclusive discussion, education, and helpful resources in communities of color in early stages of development, we can normalize and prioritize mental wellness for future generations. The cultural and generational stigmas around youth mental health and the disparity in our healthcare system have often made the conversation and seeking assistance difficult in communities of color.

Latinos account for over 67% of San Antonio’s population. Cultural stigmas are also prevalent in the Latino community, in part, because of the lack of general knowledge and resources to assist children in need of help. Some adults believe the new generation has not had to struggle as much as the previous ones, and in ways, this is true. However, generational trauma and new issues that have risen with our new society make life difficult for teens to handle, especially pertaining to mental wellness. Some of my peers who identify as Latin/x have shared experiences similar to those in the Black community. One said that because many adults in the Latinx community are not informed on mental wellness, some may jump to negative conclusions and label you when you do communicate your needs. Religious beliefs also play a big role in determining the views of adults.

In talking with HBCU alumna and newly graduated Physician Assistant Margaret Hazelton, who completed her primary care preceptorship rotation in adolescent medicine, older generations in the Black community often view mental illness as a weakness that can be “prayed away” and tend to look down upon younger generations who take medication or receive therapy. She says that in order to break this stigma, it would be helpful for people to tell their own stories to encourage the idea that “taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health”. Actions like introducing mental health support early on in life so that people would see it as they see regular doctor or dentist visits could also be beneficial. Finally, she firmly believes that “we need more uplifting and encouraging people in the Black community to talk about mental health and realize that taking care of it is more rewarding than you may think.”

Alyssa, TJ, Elisa 

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.

Partners share direct aid resources to support Uvalde community post-tragedy

Partners share direct aid resources to support Uvalde community post-tragedy

Many of UP Partnership’s community partners have been on hand assisting with in-person emergency response in our neighboring county of Uvalde after the senseless tragedy that unfolded at Uvalde CISD’s Robb Elementary School on Tuesday, May 24. Education Service Center, Region 20 Executive Director and UP Partnership board member Jeff Goldhorn has been on-site providing support to that district’s leadership and helping coordinate support efforts from the San Antonio region.

These efforts included mobilizing a group of counselors to provide needed healing supports from surrounding school districts such as Northside, East Central and Edgewood ISDs, among others. Additionally, the University of Texas at San Antonio is also offering counseling services to its students and is working to also offer similar support to the families in Uvalde. 

The San Antonio Area Foundation in tandem with the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and in partnership with the National Compassion Fund is accepting donations toward two funds aimed toward providing direct financial assistance to the survivors of the deceased and those directly affected by this tragedy, as well as an emergency relief fund to support area nonprofits that will provide long-term assistance, including mental health services in Uvalde.

H-E-B is also driving donating $500,000 to help the victims, as well as coordinating donations through its stores, while the Charles Butt Foundation is actively working on their coordinated response.

Below are further ways that we can all help the Uvalde Community in the short-term, as they begin the journey to recovery.

How to help the Uvalde Community

Monetary Donations
First State Bank of Uvalde has setup an account for donations. To donate to the Robb School Memorial Fund, please call them at 830-278-6231 and ask for Roxanne Hernandez, Chance Neutze or Cody Smith for any questions.  

You can also drop off donations at any of their branch locations or mail to: PO Box 1908, Uvalde TX 78802. Checks can be made payable to the “Robb School Memorial Fund.” Donations are also being accepted via Zelle using email address:

The San Antonio Area Foundation in partnership with the Community Foundation of Texas Hill Country have started a relief fund for the victims and their families, as well as others affected by the Uvalde shooting. You can donate on their websites.

Donate Blood at the following blood drives
• University Health in San Antonio is encouraging blood donations at its donor room at University Hospital, 4502 Medical Dr. in San Antonio. Appointments can be scheduled here
• South Texas’ primary blood bank, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, has also organized a blood drive for Wednesday in Uvalde at the Herby Ham Activity Center
• Walk-ins are welcome for those in the area. Interested donors can also make an appointment ahead of time through their website

Resources to navigate discussions around trauma
In response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde Texas, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed resources to help children, families, educators, and communities navigate what they are seeing and hearing, acknowledge their feelings, and find ways to cope together. These resources include: 

Resources for Responders
The NCTSN also has resources for responders on Psychological First Aid (PFA; En Español). PFA is an early intervention to support children, adolescents, adults, and families impacted by these types of events. PFA Mobile and the PFA Wallet Card (En Español) provide a quick reminder of the core actions. The PFA online trainingcourse is also available on the NCTSN Learning Center. 

Additional PFA resources for schools include: 

From the National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center

From the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University

Disaster Helpline

SAMHSA has a Disaster Distress Helpline – call or text 1-800-985-5990 (for Spanish, press “2”) to be connected to a trained counselor 24/7/365.



05/23/2022 Newsletter

Working towards a Future Ready Bexar County

The Future Ready Bexar County Plan has been launched publicly! In conjunction with our partners, we’ve aligned our work toward our North Star: By 2030, we will increase the percentage of postsecondary enrollment of Bexar County High School graduates in a degree or credential program to 70%. This number currently stands at around 50% in Bexar County.

Data Driven

Total 5 to 24 year olds within Bexar County = 567,698. This population makes up 29% of Bexar County’s total population.

The Latest Network Updates

Diplomás + My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio

The annual Growing UP in San Antonio (GUISA) event will have two target population areas for practitioners to grow their skills in supporting: Latinx and Dreamers, as well as boys and young men of color. The event will be held virtually on May 25 and 26. Special guest speakers include the First Lady of San Antonio and H-E-B executive Erika Prosper and Associate Juvenile Judge Cruz Shaw!

Excel Beyond the Bell SA

The annual Excel Summit was held on May 10. This year’s theme was We’re All in This Together: Focusing on Healing, Resilience, and Racial Equity. More than 160 youth development professionals attended from nearly 40 institutions to learn best practices from EBBSA community organizations!

Our Tomorrow

The Our Tomorrow Youth Grants Committee met with Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Blue Meridian Managing Director Othello Meadows to provide insights on the positive learning experiences they acquired in evaluating and making decisions on funding applications from youth-led projects, as well as the importance of getting youth insight on grander scale funding decisions.

Briana Hagelgans, Ed.D.

Director of K12 & Postsecondary

Team Member Highlight

Briana believes that postsecondary education should be accessible to all students. She has more than 14 years of experience working in San Antonio’s higher education sector across various institutions of higher learning. Briana earned her doctorate in higher educational leadership. At UP Partnership, Briana’s role focuses on advancing equity in postsecondary access and success by working closely with our K12 and higher education partners.

UPportunities to get involved!

Excel Academy

Applications for the 2022 Excel Academy, a 10-month leadership and relationship development program aimed at youth developmentv professionals, are currently open through July 31, 2022! Be part of a cohort of professionals, like you, committed to deepening connections and using a racial equity lens in our work. Reach out to to learn more.

Is Your Institution an Official Future Ready Partner yet?

It’s not too late to become a partner in the Future Ready Bexar County alignment plan. Email to join the nearly 50 institutions that have already signed on to ensure Bexar County’s young peoples’ futures!