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Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health

Family in Tropical setting

Migrant clinicians in the field are working to provide the highest standard of mental and behavioral health care using practices and language that are supportive of the patient’s personal experiences. MCN presents materials here that promote integrated mental and behavioral health practices in primary care that address the complex social, cultural, economic, and justice factors that contribute to disease burden.

The United States is currently seeing an increase in immigrants as well as people seeking refugee status. In 1970, immigrants made up 4.7 percent of the total US population. In 2013, immigrants made up 13.1 percent of the population. People are migrating to the United States for various reasons, including education and job opportunities, safety, and freedom. As we see this increase, it is important to consider the unique challenges and lifestyles of the immigrant population when it comes to their care, including when we address their mental and behavioral health needs.

Frequency of mental illness among migrants varies widely, but all migrants are subject to structural and situational influences that may demonstrably affect their mental state. Migrant farmworkers experience physical stress during work as a result of the pace and strenuousness of farmwork, coupled with mental stress from family separation, documentation status concerns, and insecurity of work opportunities. As a result of poor wages, farmworkers routinely struggle against poverty and, because of their mobility and often due to language and cultural differences, they sometimes lack community support as well, both of which limit the resources they can access to address their mental health concerns. 

Refugees, another kind of migrant, leave their homelands because of the fear of violence, war, natural disaster, and other life-threatening and life-altering events.  As a result of trauma before, during, and after migration, refugees may struggle with behavioral and mental health concerns including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, stress, depression, substance abuse, and/or suicidal ideations.