Immigration Blues: Born in the USA—Mental-health deficit

8:46am, December 15, 2004

Immigrants to the land of the free may, simply by moving here, end up taxing the mental health of their U.S.–born offspring. A wide array of psychological disorders occurs at a much higher rate among Mexican Americans born in the United States than among Mexican Americans born in Mexico, a national study finds. A nearly equivalent disparity separates foreign-born from U.S.–born non-Hispanic whites, conclude epidemiologist Bridget F. Grant of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Md., and her coworkers.

The new findings indicate that the stress encountered by new immigrants, often a function of poverty and cultural unfamiliarity, doesn't provoke psychiatric disorders. At least for foreign-born Mexican Americans, access to traditional avenues of psychological and financial support from their extended families, whether in Mexico or the United States, may partly protect mental health, the researchers say.

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