Mental health services within Latinx communities in the United States has been greatly underutilized. Seekers of mental health support face many barriers including internalized stigmas, misconception of mental health serves and low general knowledge of mental health and wellness. For many Latinx, culturally competent mental healthcare has lacked important elements to how Latinx interpret mental healthcare services. The use of Santería in many in Florida and the United States has supplemented gaps left by formal mental healthcare services. Santería has its own stigmas within Latinx communities were its practiced, forcing many Santeros and seekers to practice in private. Lack of public knowledge of Santería allows Latinx with mental illness to freely seek mental healing without the worries of negative judgment and stigma. The purpose of the is thesis is to analyze how mental health services are viewed within Latinx communities in central Florida. This work also examines the various reasons why Latinos generally underutilize mental healthcare services. My research investigates the uses of Santería in Latinx community in Central Florida as both a religious and informal therapeutic practice. Specifically, my research examines the extent to which Santería practitioners fill this gap as informal therapists and counselors; representing both culturally acceptable form of mental health services as well as reflecting the thoughts and perspective of Latinx towards formal mental healthcare.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Mishtal, Joanna


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

December 2016

Restricted to the UCF community until December 2016; it will then be open access.