Immigrants need tailored mental health aid

March 10, 2012 at 7:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Mental health services treating immigrants to the United States need to be better tailored to specific cultures and needs, psychologists said.

Carola Suarez-Orozco, chairwoman of the American Psychological Association's Presidential Task Force Report on Immigration, said the report outlines how psychologists could address the needs of immigrants across domains of practice, research, education and policy.

Immigrants face psychological implications of racism, discrimination and racial profiling, while their expressions of distress vary across cultures, the report said.

"We have identified an urgent need in scientific research and clinical settings to consider the unique aspects of immigrant populations, particularly with regard to culture and language," Suarez-Orozco said in a statement.

Most evidence-based psychological treatments currently used with immigrants are based on research performed from ethnic minorities rather than immigrants, the report said.

"Rather than approaching culture through a preset middle-class American framework, the research should use methodologies to understand the worldview of the immigrant population," the report said.

A surprising finding of the report was that first-generation immigrant populations fare better than subsequent generations in physical and behavioral health, and educational outcomes, even though they often face multiple stressors, such as poverty, difficult work environments and social isolation.

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