Mexican-American Culture and Mental Illness in the Inland Empire
The area of California known as the Inland Empire, is comprised of Riverside, Ontario, and San Bernadino Counties, and is home to one of the largest, most concentrated populations of Mexican-Americans in the United States. As a result, the area has its own culture, its own style of music, dancing, art, and celebration. Ultimately, the culture of the Inland Empire is an American translation of cultural traditions that immigrants brought with them from Mexico, and they have created a world all their own. Life for Mexican immigrants to the United States, however, is not always easy. As a result, this is a high-risk population for mental illness and substance abuse. Certainly, the Inland Empire provides plenty of opportunities for the culturally aware social worker to provide help and services.
According to a 2012 business report, fourteen cities in the Inland Empire have a majority Latino population. 2-million of the 4.7 million residents in the area, are in fact Latino, suggesting a trend of growing Latino populations all over the United States (Gruszecki, 2012). The Inland Empire has a rich arts and culture landscape, with a strong emphasis on Mexican, and Mexican-American heritage. In a 2008 investigation into cultural engagement in southern California, the James Irving Foundation found that Hispanic populations in the Inland Empire tended to “practice traditions that represent their cultural heritage at higher than average rates and engage in community events that celebrate their heritage much more often than Whites,” (Brown et al, 9).
The study surveyed thousands of people across the Inland Empire, and found that many Mexican-Americans in the area still celebrate many of the same holidays as their Mexican Ancestors, including Navidad, Virgin of Guadaloupe Day (Dec.12), Posadas, Cinco de Mayo, and Dia de Los Muertos (Brown et al, 74). Alamillo suggests that celebrating these holidays once...
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