According to the Huffington Post:
“Between the 11 million people currently living in the U.S. without legal immigration status and the roughly 5 million U.S. citizen children with at least one undocumented parent ― not to mention the adult citizens with undocumented loved ones ― nearly 1 in 20 people in the U.S. could be at risk for mental health problems related to immigration status.”
As immigration policies continue to change, mental health considerations for impacted parents and children becomes more and more important. Parents who are immigrants often experience fear of deportation, exploitation by employers, trauma, distrust in public service, language barriers, racism, and financial strain. Although children of all ages may be aware of their circumstances, adolescents in particular have a better understanding of the stressors faced by their families.
Children of immigrants often experience symptoms of depression, separation anxiety and low self-esteem. Often children exhibit hypervigilant fear of a parent’s deportation. In addition, studies show that increases in parents’ fear leads to an increase in mental health symptoms of children. Immigrant parents are also at higher risk of developing mental health issues. Immigrant parents may worry about being separated from their children, experience difficulty living in a new environment and learning an unfamiliar culture, and miss their family and community in their country of origin. Symptoms among parents may include depression, anxiety, helplessness, and low self-esteem.
Although immigrant families face many barriers to treatment such as lack of time and fear due to immigration status, it is important to seek help to find services that best meet the needs of immigrants and their families. Anyone struggling with these issues can seek care at counseling centers, religious institutions, and human rights and advocacy centers. Also, if you or someone you know may be in need of professional mental health treatment, please contact Interact at 215-478-1330.
Author: Tiffany Arajuro