Understanding the Immigration Experience Through a Trauma Lens

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He, Zhongxue
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The international migrant population is increasing, and at the same time, there is growing evidence suggesting there is an association between immigration and mental health problems. However, there is no explanation of the mechanisms behind the mental health disparities between the immigrant groups and the general population. The objective of this literature review was to investigate the reasons for higher mental health problem prevalence among immigrants by conceptualizing their experience through a trauma lens. In order to provide a more detailed analysis, the literature relating to this study about migrants is mainly taken from studies relating to migration to Western countries. Additionally, the method used to complete the study was to review peer-reviewed journal articles published in English in PubMed, APA PsychInfo, ScienceDirect, ProQuest, and Google Scholar database. The following search terms were used: migration, stress, mental health, trauma, immigration, Chinese immigrants, therapy, counselling, prejudice, racism, discrimination, acculturation, and cultural competency. My results demonstrate that the immigration process can be traumatic because the acculturation process and prejudice in the host countries induce chronic traumatic stressors. Also, the mental health impact of immigration fits the description of trauma reactions, such as dissociation, negative self-cognition, lack of a sense of safety, and development of physical illnesses. The study provides a deep understanding of the immigration experience and proposes practical guidelines for culturally sensitive mental health care.
immigration , Chinese immigrants , trauma , migration , therapy , counselling , prejudice , racism , discrimination , acculturation
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess