The Relationships Between Loneliness, Social Support, and Resilience Among Latinx Immigrants in the United States

Abstract

Globally, international migrants are at elevated risk for experiencing loneliness due to separation from social networks in their countries of origin. In the United States, the political rhetoric has been particularly exclusionary against Latinx immigrants, exposing them to discrimination and fear of deportation. Such environments may result in heightened levels of social isolation, which may contribute to greater risk of poor mental and physical health outcomes. Latinx immigrants, however, may access social support in their destination communities that buffers against these negative outcomes. This study sought to examine how social support and loneliness shape Latinx immigrants’ abilities to address the challenges related to migration. Multivariate linear regression analyses were conducted with survey data collected from Latinx immigrants in New York City (n = 306). Results revealed that Latinx immigrants with greater social support and less feelings of loneliness were more resilient. Specifically, findings suggest that social support may partially protect against the negative impact of isolation on Latinx immigrants’ capacity to thrive. Clinical social workers who work with immigrant groups may consider how migration during the life course affects immigrants’ social supports and experiences of loneliness. Social work interventions that integrate strategies to increase social support may provide opportunities to address social isolation and other obstacles associated with migration. Such approaches acknowledge loneliness not only as a psychological symptom, but also as a consequence of unfavorable social environments towards immigrant populations. Future research may develop and assess culturally relevant strategies to promote social support and reduce loneliness among marginalized immigrants.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R36MH108395. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. This publication was also supported by the National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number KL2 TR002317. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Additional support was provided by the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University Silver School of Social Work.

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Correspondence to Jane Lee.

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Lee, J., Hong, J., Zhou, Y. et al. The Relationships Between Loneliness, Social Support, and Resilience Among Latinx Immigrants in the United States. Clin Soc Work J 48, 99–109 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-019-00728-w

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Keywords

  • Social support
  • Loneliness
  • Resilience
  • Immigrants
  • Latinx