Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

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Immigrant mothers face numerous challenges and unique stressors related not only to their role as asylum-seekers but also to their roles as women and caretakers. Some studies suggest that immigrant mothers may exhibit high internalizing symptoms related to pre-migration trauma exposure, while others claim that such symptoms may be due to the internalization of their children’s mental health. In view of this, a total of 60 recently arrived immigrant mothers and their children from Central America, predominantly the Northern Triangle, who arrived via the U.S-Mexico border were sampled. Immigrant mothers and their children were administered a Spanish battery containing health and trauma screeners. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that, after controlling for maternal demographics and trauma exposure by child and mother, the children’s mental health score was not a significant predictor to maternal mental health; instead, maternal demographics were the strongest predictors to poorer maternal mental health. Clinicians working with this population should be aware of perceived violations of women’s rights. More importantly, policy reform should consider the unique challenges immigrant mothers and their children face upon their arrival into the US and take meaningful action to alleviate such challenges. Future research and clinical implications are discussed.

Key Take Away Points

  • There was no association between children’s mental health and maternal mental health
  • Maternal demographics were the strongest predictors of poorer maternal mental health
  • Asylum-seeking immigrant mothers face unique traumatic experiences that predict their mental health outcomes

Publication Title

Journal of Family Strengths



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Psychology Commons



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