Mental Health Stressors Among Undocumented Young Adults in the United States: A Review from the Socioecological Perspective.

Lenore Matthew, University of Illinois, School of Social Work

In the United States, 4.4 million young adults under 30 are living with undocumented status.  Undocumented immigrants are more likely than documented immigrants and native-born citizens to endure negative mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, due to the unique stressors that undocumented immigrants endure. This paper reviews the relevant current literature on mental health stressors among undocumented young adults in the U.S., and organizes the stressors in a way that is meaningful for practitioners serving this population. Using a socioecological model, we find that undocumented young adults are vulnerable to unique mental health stressors at four levels—individual, micro, meso, and macro levels—and that the four levels of stressors interact and reinforce one another. Furthermore, punitive immigration policy permeates all levels of stressors. Policy interventions, namely the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, provide some relief of mental health stressors, but, due to program volatility, do not eliminate them. Ways forward for practice with undocumented young adults are suggested.



About the speaker

Lenore Matthew is an applied researcher and clinically-trained social worker, and currently a Doctoral Candidate with the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois in the U.S. Her research focuses on gender, labor market disparities, migration, and intersections thereof. Lenore has practiced and conducted primary fieldwork in the U.S., Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Ireland, and Switzerland, employing a variety of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

Lenore holds a Master of Social Work, a Master of International Relations, a Bachelor of Science in Business, and will conclude her Ph.D. in Social Work this spring. She has recently relocated to Brussels, and is currently building a social enterprise, Dovetail Consulting, which helps women and migrant entrepreneurs establish their own start-ups.



Venue: 0.16-0.17

Date: 07 December 2017

Time: 13:15 - 14:15


UNU-MERIT