New Immigrants during the Coronavirus Pandemic: The Effects of Social Distancing and Social Isolation on Mental Health

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Balan, Mihaela
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The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11, 2020. To reduce the fast spread of the virus, governments and public health authorities around the world have ordered physical distancing and isolation. Such measures have led to unprecedented social isolation across the globe, and the impact of the pandemic on the population's mental health is not fully understood. A review of the current literature revealed that all segments of the world's population have been affected, yet certain groups found themselves in vulnerable situations, such as new immigrants, who have been impacted the hardest. Grounded in the biopsychosocial framework and intersectionality framework, this paper investigates how the mental health of new immigrants has been affected during this time, and it identifies solutions that have been generated. Findings show that on the one hand, sudden and complex changes can be detrimental to mental health, and on the other hand, it highlights elements of resiliency, such as accelerated innovation. Many researchers sent a clear message: Problems that have been ignored for a long time need to be addressed. Recommendations for mental health practitioners are summarized, with a focus on addressing unique challenges that this population encounters. There was a consensus among researchers that further studies are needed to identify and explore the long-term effects of the pandemic's impact on the mental health of new immigrants.
immigrant , new or recent immigrant , undocumented immigrant , refugee , pandemic , social distancing , social isolation , intersectionality , belonging
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess