Farmworkers in Calif. Often Lack Access to Mental Health Services


California agricultural workers often face higher rates of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but many lack access to mental health services, HealthyCal reports.


According to the Board of Behavioral Sciences, few mental health professionals in the state speak a second language. Specifically, a 2006 survey by the agency found that about 12% of professionals licensed by the agency spoke fluent Spanish and about 1% spoke Chinese.

Meanwhile, more than 20% of California residents speak a language other than English at home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey.

Details of Challenges for Farmworkers

Farmworkers who have immigrated to California typically lack access to mental health care resources, despite the fact that many counties have implemented programs to provide medical care to such individuals, according to HealthyCal.  

Sandra Barrientos, a therapist with Ventura County Health Care Agency, said such residents often face a higher risk of mental health problems because of "stress related to leaving their families, as well as being undocumented and feeling like outsiders."

Meloney Roy, chief deputy director and behavioral health director for Ventura County's health agency, said that the agency has had a difficult time reaching farmworkers because of:

  • Cultural barriers;
  • Language barriers; and
  • Stigmas about mental health conditions.
In addition, some mental health providers do not allow translators to take part in appointments (Guzik, HealthyCal, 6/15).

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