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Travel and Travail: Mental Health Consequences of Immigration Related Factors, Acculturative Stress, and Social Support among Asian American Immigrants.

By Shipra Singh

Abstract

The experience of immigration is not uniform for all immigrants. This diversity with its accompanying acculturative stressors has a differential impact on the mental health of immigrants. Limited research has been done to understand the effect of acculturative stress and social support on the mental health of Asian Americans. This study investigates the relationship of three acculturative stresses (legal stress, language barriers, discrimination) to psychological distress and major depressive episode lifetime. In addition, it examines the moderating effect of two immigration-related factors, age at immigration, and years spent in the United States (U.S.) on the relationship between acculturative stress and major depressive episode. This study also examines the moderating impact of kin and non-kin social support on the relationship of acculturative stress to psychological distress. Using data from the 2002-2003 National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS), 1,639 foreign-born Asian immigrant respondents were included in the sample. Results show that legal stress and language barriers were significantly related to major depressive episode. Age at immigration moderated the association between legal stress and major depressive episode. Specifically, immigrants who came to the U.S. as adults were protected from the effects of high legal stress on major depressive episode in comparison to immigrants who came as children to the U.S. Years spent in the U.S. moderated the association between discrimination and major depressive episode such that living in the U.S. for more than 10 years was protective against the effect of language barriers on major depressive episode in comparison to living in the U.S. less than 10 years. Results also show that language barriers and discrimination were significantly related to psychological distress. Non-kin social support moderates the association of discrimination and psychological distress; the effect of any discrimination on psychological distress is weaker among immigrants with high non-kin social support than it is for immigrants who have low non-kin social support. In summary, this research highlights the importance of understanding the impact of immigration process and social resources that are available to the immigrants in examining the relationship of stress and mental health, specifically among Asian American immigrants

Topics: Immigration and Impact of Immigration Policies, Acculturation and Accultrative Stress, Asian American Mental Health
OAI identifier: oai:deepblue.lib.umich.edu:2027.42/84480
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