The Handbook of Chicana/o Psychology and Mental Health

The Handbook of Chicana/o Psychology and Mental Health

The Handbook of Chicana/o Psychology and Mental Health

The Handbook of Chicana/o Psychology and Mental Health


Mexican-Americans have distinct cultural patterns and values that those who seek to serve them competently as clinicians and educators or study them need to understand. Solidly grounded in the latest theory and research, the Handbook offers the first up-to-date comprehensive overview of the issues and concerns.


Latina/os are now the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States, representing approximately 33 million in the year 2000, and two thirds of them are Chicana/os. However, there are major differences among Latino subgroups in terms of their cultural characteristics, immigration experiences, history, socioeconomic levels, and other important factors. It is no longer appropriate to negate these differences or to assume that all Latinos share similar psychological issues (McNeill et al., 2001).

However, despite their increasingly strong presence, as a distinct population, they face various challenges such as low educational attainment rates. Approximately 51% are high school graduates and less than 7% have obtained a bachelor's or higher degree. Chicana/os are also confronted with harsh economic conditions, such as poverty, unemployment, and underemployment: For instance, 24% of Chicana/os lived below the poverty level in 1999 (Therrien & Ramirez, 2000).

Chicana/os, through recent legislation in many states, have been denied affirmative action and access to key institutions. Chicana/os' use of their native language has also recently been legislated in English-only movements. Many Mejicana/os now living in the United States remain undocumented, marginalized, and oppressed. Even apart from economic and educational factors, problems stemming from immigration and migration, high rates of substance use, gang involvement, high incarceration rates, racism, sexism and homophobia, single-parent households, domestic violence, and separation from family all contribute to Chicana/os' risk for psychological and medical disorders.

The relevance of this book, at this time in our history, is critical for many reasons. The last book on the psychology of Chicana/os (Martinez & Mendoza, Chicano Psychology, second edition, 1984) was published nearly 20 years ago as a second edition of a book originally published in 1977 (Martinez, 1977). Both editions followed conferences in a small series organized by Chicana/o psychologists as pioneering efforts to stimulate the development of theory and research. The first conference, “Increasing Educational Opportunities for Chicana/os Psychology, ” was held at the University of California, Riverside in 1973. At this meeting, papers highlighted concerns and necessary changes in psychology to ensure that Chicana/os were largely represented at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This conference was held at the height of the Chicana/o civil rights movement and reflected changes taking . . .

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