Mental Health Resources for U.S. Immigrants

Immigrants are #HereToStay

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

 

In This Article

According to the Pew Research Center, there are more immigrants in the United States than any other country across the globe. In fact, just about every country is represented in the U.S.

Despite what some politicians say, rates of immigration today are lower than in the past, as the highest record was 14.8% of the population in 1890, when there were 9.2 million immigrants.

There are a variety of reasons why folx decide to immigrate to the U.S. including:

  • Expulsion as a result of war
  • Poverty
  • Better work or educational opportunities

Given such diversity in where immigrants come from and why they decide to move, this immigration experience varies depending on the circumstances individuals face.

Impact on Mental Health

Considering the reasons for immigration, it is easy to see how such decisions can increase stress on folx and have a substantial impact on mental health.

Any discussion of immigrants would be incomplete without also acknowledging the reality that refugees face. Many have often dealt with trauma in their home countries, prompting folx to move to the U.S. in search of safety.

In a systematic review of the mental health services utilized by immigrants in the U.S., research demonstrated that folx from Asia, Latin America, and Africa made use of these services at lower rates than non-immigrants—despite an equal or greater need for them. These rates were even lower among men, the uninsured, and the undocumented.

These studies shed light on such structural barriers including:

  • A lack of insurance
  • High costs
  • Language barriers (many services offered were not available in immigrants' native tongues)

The value of social support is worth noting as the folx who accessed mental health resources often did so after reaching out to family, friends, etc.

The Healthy Immigrant Effect refers to how immigrants tend to be more healthy than those who are native to the country they've moved to but their physical health decreases over time. According to research, this also applies to mental health, as older immigrants showed poorer mental health outcomes on three measures, compared to their U.S.-born peers.

In a study of school-linked mental health services for immigrant and refugee children, even when interventions managed to engage with families, trauma‐informed therapy failed to address the impacts of poverty, discrimination, and cultural adaptation. Additionally, participants reported that economic stressors were the most detrimental to their health.

In this way, it is crucial to understand the limits of individual mental health services when the experiences of immigrants are negatively impacted by xenophobia (and white supremacy if folx are BIPOC) which tends to result in discrimination and poverty.

Coping With Stress

While stress is an expected part of life, immigrants often face unique stressors associated with settling in a new country.

Furthermore, folx who are undocumented often experience discrimination, social isolation, depression, and face additional barriers to accessing services for mental health treatment.

Mental Health Resources for Immigrants

Below is a list of resources and services available to folx who have immigrated to the U.S.:

The Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health

The Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health has compiled a directory of services in both English and Spanish, with costs and requirements for each that have been individually contacted and confirmed. Additionally, you can find an interactive map of resources and crisis counseling hotlines.

The American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association has gathered such information as tips for immigrant parents when having difficult discussions with their children about the elections as well as an activity book to assist Latinx children impacted by deportation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics has designed an Immigrant Child Health Toolkit with resources for mental and emotional health, including risk and protective factors for consideration.

The National Center for Youth Law

The National Center for Youth Law has prepared resources aimed at supporting the mental health needs of immigrant youth, including a trauma-informed approach webinar and a training for educators on best practices when working with immigrant students and families.

The Center for Victims of Torture

The Center for Victims of Torture has compiled some materials in various languages to assist with mental health, including helplines.

The Immigrant Learning Center

The Immigrant Learning Center has gathered many resources to assist immigrant communities, including tangible support and emergency funding for undocumented folx and free or low-cost clinics that do not discriminate on the basis of immigration status.

Mental Health America

Mental Health America has also included resources as a workshop on Inter-generational Wisdom from an immigrant, Dr. Cesar Cruz. Given how immigrants often rely on spiritual practices and ritual practices to cope with psychological distress, this can be a helpful resource.

Inclusive Therapists

Inclusive Therapists has compiled a list of services providers that are well-suited to meeting the psychotherapy needs of immigrants, given their explicit commitment to values of anti-discrimination, anti-oppression, anti-stigma, anti-racism, and anti-ableism.

Black Mental Wellness

Black Mental Wellness has gathered evidence-based information and resources from a Black perspective, to highlight and increase the diversity of professionals, and decrease the stigma of mental health.

Therapy for Latinx

Therapy for Latinx has compiled a directory of mental health service providers for the Latinx community, as well as book recommendations, crisis hotlines, national resources, etc.

The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association

The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association has prepared a resource list to meet the mental health needs of their community, which includes state-level programs when more AAPI-specific information is unavailable for that area.

The South Asian Mental Health Initiative & Network

The South Asian Mental Health Initiative & Network has gathered a variety of materials for mental health, including a provider network, a helpline, and a support group for suicide loss survivors.

A Word From Verywell

With such diversity among immigrants, in terms of where they come from and why they choose to move, there are no shortage of unique factors that can have an impact on mental health, which may require a combination of formal and informal supports.

Given how the research indicates that folx tend to access services following discussions with loved ones within their community, a good understanding of these mental health resources can be beneficial should you be contacted by immigrants in need of help.

When folx are dealing with the challenge of mental health issues, informal support from a trusted loved one and knowledge of applicable programs and services may be key in assisting immigrants in their time of need.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Budiman A. Key Findings About U.S. Immigrants. Pew Research Center. Published August 20, 2020.

  2. Bas-Sarmiento P, Saucedo-Moreno M, Fernández-Gutiérrez M, Poza-Méndez M. Mental Health in Immigrants Versus Native Population: A Systematic Review of the LiteratureArch Psychiatr Nurs. 2017;31(1):111-121. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2016.07.014

  3. Choi S, Kim G, Lee S. Effects of Nativity, Length of Residence, and County-Level Foreign-Born Density on Mental Health Among Older Adults in the U.S. Psychiatric Quarterly. 2016;87(4):675-688. doi:10.1007/s11126-016-9418-2

  4. McNeely C, Sprecher K, Bates‐Fredi D, Price O, Allen C. Identifying Essential Components of School‐Linked Mental Health Services for Refugee and Immigrant Children: A Comparative Case StudyJournal of School Health. 2019;90(1):3-14. doi:10.1111/josh.12845

  5. Stacciarini J, Smith R, Wiens B, Pérez A, Locke B, LaFlam M. I Didn’t Ask to Come to this Country…I was a Child: The Mental Health Implications of Growing Up UndocumentedJ Immigr Minor Health. 2014;17(4):1225-1230. doi:10.1007/s10903-014-0063-2

  6. Yorke C, Voisin D, Berringer K, Alexander L. Cultural factors influencing mental health help-seeking attitudes among Black English-Speaking Caribbean immigrants in the United States and BritainSoc Work Ment Health. 2015;14(2):174-194. doi:10.1080/15332985.2014.943832