Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Mental Illness

  • Holly C. Sienkiewicz
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_504

Immigrants, including refugees, face unique stressors that contribute to mental illness prior to, during, and after migration to a foreign country. Many factors affect immigrants’ abilities to cope with these stressors. Diagnosis and treatment of mental illness is complicated due to accessibility barriers and cultural differences in the display and acceptance of mental health conditions.

Premigration Factors

Premigration trauma experienced in the country of origin may include environmental triggers such as war, torture, genocide, terrorism, natural disasters, and famine. The effects of these factors are exacerbated by the loss of family members and social networks through separation and/or death. The immediate residence prior to migration can also affect the mental health of immigrants and refugees. Prolonged stays in refugee camps and detention centers impact one’s mental health in very different ways. For instance, the majority of refugee camp dwellers have sufficient cause to worry...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Pumariega, A. J., Rothe, E., & Pumariega, J. B. (2005). Mental health of immigrants and refugees. Community Mental Health Journal, 41(5), 581–597.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Watters, C. (2001). Emerging paradigms in the mental health care of refugees. Social Science & Medicine, 52(11), 1709–1718.Google Scholar
  3. Woodward, A. M., Dwinell, A. D., & Arons, B. S. (2007). Barriers to mental health care for Hispanic Americans: a literature review and discussion. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 19(3), 224–236.Google Scholar

Suggested Resources

  1. American Psychiatric Association – Mental illness. http://www.healthyminds.org/Main-Topic/Mental-Illness.aspx
  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holly C. Sienkiewicz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health EducationThe University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA