The Effects of Immigration on the mental health of adolescents: Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Substance abuse, Delinquent and suicidal behavior among immigrant youth
Dana Galler(1,2) and Leo Sher(1)
1. Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, USA
2. Yeshiva University, Stern College for Women, New York, New York, USA
Immigration and Mental Health: Stress, Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Behavior Among Immigrants and Refugees. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2010, 350 pages.
Immigration populations have generally been associated with elevated rates of mental illness and psychological disorders. And, while a taxing transition to a new country, culture, and environment can be extremely stressful for any immigrant, such stressors become even more dangerous for adolescents, who simultaneously face many physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional changes, including development of autonomy and identity. Studies of immigrant youth have consistently shown that the interaction of these stressors contribute to deteriorations of mental health, excessive amounts of anxiety, experiences of depression, and substance abuse in immigrant youth, putting them at elevated risks for engaging in suicidal behavior. Certain protective factors, however, have been found to boost the psychological resilience of immigrant adolescents, enabling these teens to successfully cope in response to significant risk exposure. Suggestions for successful intervention involve facilitating protective factors such as strong family bonds, peer support systems, and acquisition of the new language in adolescent immigrants.