205859 Immigrant mental health factors: Insights from the SHIPS study

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stefanie Pietras, BS , Community Health Program, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Domenica Nino , Community Health Program, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Matthew Eckstat , Community Health Program, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Linda Sprague Martinez, PhD , Community Health Program, Tufts University, Medford, MA
During the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 academic years, the Survey of Health and Immigrant Practices in Somerville, Massachusetts (SHIPS) was implemented by a team of student, faculty and community researchers. The results of the survey are intended to enable local providers and organizations to improve services provided to the immigrant population, which comprises over 30% of Somerville residents.

This study employed a snowball sampling strategy. Initial subjects were recruited through community partner organizations, outreach and flyers. The study questionnaire was anonymous and consisted of both quantitative and semi-structured qualitative items. The sample was mixed, although primarily Brazilian and male (n=55).

Immigration and acculturation can be stressful processes. Social support may serve as a stress buffer enabling immigrants to remain resilient despite cultural, linguistic, political and economic challenges. Mental health status was assessed based upon a composite of survey questions regarding the frequency of emotional states including loneliness, optimism, happiness, anxiety, and depression. Social support proxies included number of relatives in Somerville, number of intimate connections in the United States, and participation in various local organizations.

Descriptive findings including the relationships between mental health and length of residence in Somerville, age, gender, legal status, and social support will be presented. The differences between immigrants' assessments of their own mental health versus their perceptions of other undocumented immigrants' mental health status will then be highlighted. The presentation will culminate with implications for local mental health providers as they work to tailor care to meet the needs of their respective populations.

Learning Objectives:
1.Discuss how local healthcare services can improve their outreach and care to Somerville’s immigrant population. 2.Identify factors that influence immigrant mental health. 3.Compare immigrants’ assessments of their personal mental health to their perceptions of other undocumented immigrants’ mental health.

Keywords: Immigrants, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I will be presenting research that I have conducted as part of a student faculty community research team.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.