This past Monday, the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead, also known as ALMA, hosted their “Depression in the Minority” event. With October already being observed as Depression Awareness Month, “Depression in the Minority” featured a more in-depth look at the way race and mental health intersect, what causes the discrepancies between mental health among races and what can be done to help.
“This is not a presentation strictly for Latinos: all races are discussed in this presentation,” Jonathan Cedeno, the president of ALMA, assured. “That is why it’s broadly called ‘Depression in the Minority.’ All minority groups are represented.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 30 percent of college students reported they were “so depressed that it was difficult to function.” Cedeno was a part of this percentage when he started his career at Ramapo College, due to what he labels as a culture shock.
“When I started here my freshman year, I experienced this sort of culture shock. People put me down, and I was seen as less than them because I was Latino,” Cedeno continued. “Nobody seemed to care that my grades were better than theirs, or that I was involved on campus.”
While it is shocking to hear that this sort of blatant racism happened on Ramapo’s campus, Cedeno continued to talk about the mistreatment of Latinos and other minority groups on all college campuses. However, Cedeno resolved to see the good in his situation, and let his experience be the catalyst of having these conversations on all campuses, not just Ramapo.
“If there is one thing I hope people get out of this presentation, it is that even if you are a part of a minority group, you can overcome anything,” he said. “You can be more than a statistic if you have the right mindset.”
Cedeno also hopes for people to begin to challenge the idea of the minority.
“People get pushed down, and they often stay down because of people’s actions,” Cedeno finished. “I want people in minority groups to look up to someone like me and say to themselves that they can overcome anything.”