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Mental Health In Undocumented Communities

Multi-Cultural Group Of Men And Women At Mental Health Group Therapy Meeting
The Color Purple 2023

A new way of life always plays a big role in mental health.

Mental health is an important part of our everyday life. Most people, no matter who they are or where they come from, will have to deal with some form of mental health issue in their lifetime.

There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. These immigrants are coming to this country from all over the world, with the majority from Mexico and Central America.

They all have decided to come here for different reasons, and bring with them their own personal experiences.

mental health
Photo via Envato Elements

A THERAPIST’S PERSPECTIVE

Pedro Diaz, a behavioral health therapist at a community center in northern Colorado, U.S.A., talks about his experiences working with this community and what it’s like  to deal with their mental health.

Diaz explains that the new way of living for undocumented immigrants plays a big role on their mindset. He talks about the feeling a lot of members of these communities have, of not being safe in the country. 

Some of the common concerns for this community are their immigration status as well as the trauma of getting into the United States: “They are more likely to not report the injustices that have happened to them because they are afraid if they go to the police that this could be used against them.”

Diaz explains that there is a big need for providers of all backgrounds — therapists who can really communicate with and understand the vast population of immigrants that come to this country.

African Man in Mental Health Consultation
Photo via Envato Elements

THE STIGMA OF MENTAL HEALTH

In a lot of countries, though, mental health isn’t something that people talk about.

When asked if she would talk to someone about her personal problems, one member of this community said: “What for? What happened to me should not be shared with anyone. It’s too painful to talk about.”

This person added: “La ropa sucia se lava en casa.” (Dirty laundry is washed at home.) 

Undocumented immigrants are faced with the difficult decision to leave their country. The possibility of seeing their families again is sometimes very slim and that’s also a burden that they must cope with.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

There are resources available for undocumented immigrants to get help. Immigrantsrising.org is one. The United We Dream Mental Health Directory is another. 

Supportive people encouraging young woman during group therapy meeting at mental health center.
Photo via Envato Elements
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