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ATTC Messenger July 2022: Reflecting on 'identity' this Minority Mental Health Month

As a behavioral health professional with over 40 years of experience, it is my strong feeling that identity is the foundation of developing positive “Minority Mental Health.”

I say this as the middle son of five siblings born in the U.S. to Salvadoran immigrants. My dad was raised in a small, rural town in El Salvador. My mother was from a larger city, Santa Ana. My dad immigrated first in the early 1940’s as an art student. He changed career plans by enlisting in the U.S. Army, deploying to the Pacific in World War II. He would be engaged to my mother who had moved to Mexico City to be with relatives. For political reasons many of her family had immigrated to Mexico, and later, Costa Rica.

In 1948, my mother would join my dad. They married and settled in California’s Bay Area, buying a home on the G.I. Loan in a working-class suburb of San Francisco. My dad went to work for Bethlehem Steel, while my mother was a homemaker and later provided elder care to a neighbor.

My most intimate experience with acculturation/assimilation (Choy et al., 2021) was a struggle with my name. Like many immigrants, my parents wanted me to have an “American” name. They named me Freddie, a derivative of Alfredo, my uncle. During adolescence I experienced some dissonance with my name and identity.  I was an average student, played high school sports but became more aware of my family’s background.  I began feeling the need to embrace my Latino/Salvadoran identity. 


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July 1, 2022
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