Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 54, Issue 10, pp 1285–1294 | Cite as

Psychiatric problems among returned migrants in Mexico: updated findings from the Mexican Migration Project

  • Kyle Waldman
  • Julia Shu-Huah Wang
  • Hans OhEmail author
Original Paper



Migration is often a stressful process that can have deleterious effects on health. We study the potential mental health consequences of migration by comparing Mexican migrants to the United States who have since returned to Mexico with Mexicans who have never migrated.


Data from the Mexican Migration Project were used to compare returned migrants and non-migrants in Mexico for the years 2007–2016 (N = 7716). Random intercept logistic regression models were used to estimate the associations between characteristics of migration and psychiatric problems. Coarsened exact matching was implemented to account for the selection bias inherent to migration.


Relatively healthier Mexicans were more likely to migrate to the United States, regardless of their documentation status. Returned migrants in Mexico who traveled to the United States while undocumented were significantly more likely to report that they experienced psychiatric problems when compared with non-migrant Mexicans, even after adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, pre-migration health, and community-level factors.


Undocumented return migrants in Mexico are at-risk of developing psychiatric problems, despite evidence that suggests migrants tend to be healthier than non-migrants before they travel to the United States. Mental health services should encompass strategies for migrants on both sides of the border.


Migration Mental health Mexico Selection bias 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

127_2019_1699_MOESM1_ESM.docx (32 kb)
Supplementary file1 (docx 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sol Price School of Public PolicyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social Work and Social AdministrationThe University of Hong Kong (HKU)Hong KongChina
  3. 3.Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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