Immigrants typically face a broad range of stressors upon arrival in a new country, such as a lack of environmental mastery, social support, language proficiency and socioeconomic status, as well as a painful loss of familial connections, all of which tend to yield a higher rate of mental disorders in the population (Khawaja, Gomez & Turner, 2009). Racialized immigrants also face the challenge of racism at the institutional, cultural, and individual levels, potentially resulting in experiences of prejudice, discrimination, and violence (Chen & Chen, 2020). The subsequent effect of all this on second generation children of immigrants may involve developmental issues around forming an identity associated with ethnicity and subsequent related adverse mental health symptoms (Lee & Neese, 2020).
It’s no easy task to leave your homeland and all that you know for a new life in another country, nor is it easy to be descended from immigrants and find yourself neither one thing or another, but a separate, third thing – one that belongs nowhere. I am gratefully able to personally attest to the fact that therapy can be a key tool to unlocking a more resilient and adaptable sense of your own self in the face of such overwhelming challenges.
Chen, H. & Chen, E. C. (2020) Working with Interpreters in Therapy Groups for Forced Migrants: Challenges and Opportunities. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 70:2, 244-269, doi: 10.1080/00207284.2019.1685885
Khawaja, N. G., Gomez, I. & Turner, G. (2009). Development of the Multicultural Mental Health Awareness Scale. Australian Psychologist, 44(2), pp. 67–77. DOI: 10.1080/00050060802417801
Lee, H. Y. & Neese, J. A. (2020). Mental and Behavioral Health of Immigrants in the United States. Published by Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-816117-3.00008-7.
Thoughts on Therapy and Mental Health