Feeling Depressed in a Foreign Country: Mental Health Status of Mexican Migrants in Durham, NC

Edith Y. Gutierrez-Vazquez, University of Pennsylvania
Chenoa A. Flippen, University of Pennsylvania
Emilio A. Parrado, University of Pennsylvania

Of all Hispanic immigrants in the US, Mexicans have accounted for almost all the advantages of the epidemiological paradox. However, their mental health outcomes have shown to be less advantageous. We explore the link between migration and depressive feelings using a binational random survey of Mexicans in Durham, NC and sending communities in Mexico. Explanations for the link between migration and depression, such as acculturation stress and social environmental distance, are analyzed by comparing results between residents of Mexico and Durham, and among immigrants themselves. Results show little support for selection as an important source of the higher depression registered among migrants, instead provide evidence that migration itself, and the disruption of social networks that it entails, heightens depression among migrants. Family separation is the strongest predictor of depressive feelings and accounts for a sizeable portion of the heightened depression among migrants. Understanding subjective experiences of migration is necessary to better integrate newcomers into host societies

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Presented in Session 14: Migration and Mental Health