Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Influence of U.S. Policy Uncertainties on the Mental Health Treatment Seeking Decision-Making Process of Undocumented Latino Immigrants: A Qualitative Investigation
by Sanchez, Kimberly Daphnie, M.P.H., California State University, Long Beach, 2019, 72; 22587742
Abstract (Summary)

Approximately 700,000 immigrant youth qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy; DACA, a federal policy introduced in 2012, which provided eligible undocumented immigrants with a 2-year work permit and protection from deportation. In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced plans for the rescindment of DACA, which became effective March 2018. Such policy changes and uncertainties may affect the mental health of many undocumented immigrants by producing feelings such as anxiety, guilt, anger, depression, and shame due to a heightened risk of deportation. Thus, unauthorized immigrants who were impacted by the rescindment of DACA may represent a group in need of mental health treatment. However, their unauthorized status may make treatment-seeking difficult as many undocumented individuals fear that revealing their undocumented status to health professionals may affect their ability to apply for residency and/or citizenship. As such, the purpose of this study was to conduct a qualitative investigation to explore the impact of the DACA policy uncertainty on the mental health treatment seeking processes of unauthorized immigrant young adults. Semi-structured interviews guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) were conducted in Southern California with six DACA-qualified, Latino undocumented immigrant young adults who ranged in age from 20 to 27. The interviews were guided by a phenomenological approach, this approach examines the commonality of a phenomenon among a group of individuals and describes the universal essence of that specific phenomenon. The phenomenon was the impact of the uncertainty of DACA and how the uncertainty played a factor in mental health treatment seeking behavior. Specifically, the interviews explored the influence of behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, and control beliefs on participants’ decision to seek mental health treatment following the DACA program rescindment. Interview data were transcribed, thematically analyzed using inductive and deductive coding by the principal investigator. Various themes, both negative and positive, emerged for each of the three constructs (i.e., behavioral, normative, and control beliefs). The analysis revealed that the themes for behavioral beliefs were personal growth, judgment of self and others, and status disclosure. Themes for normative beliefs were positive support from peers and the experience of generational divide around mental health behaviors. Themes for control beliefs included the need for cultural awareness among healthcare providers, the accessibility of mental health services, the stigma, and the DACA policy uncertainty as a barrier, Policy and practice implications to better serve Latinos impacted by DACA policy changes include understanding undocumented individuals’ motives that prevent them from seeking mental health treatment as well as training health professionals to be more culturally sensitive towards undocumented Latinos.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bavarian, Niloofar
Commitee: Garcia, Melawhy, Lovato, Kristina
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Health Science
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 81/3(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Public health, Mental health, Health sciences
Keywords: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Mental health difficulties, Mental health treatment, Treatment seeking, Undocumented
Publication Number: 22587742
ISBN: 9781088351307
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