Why Should They Worry? Lower Levels of Mental Health Distress among Non-Citizen Immigrants

Catherine N. Barry, University of California, Berkeley

Given the vast differences between the experiences between three groups, non-citizen immigrants (legal and unauthorized), naturalized citizens and native-born citizens, why do non-citizens have lower levels of mental distress? This study attempts to include unauthorized immigrants. This study uses the 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and a combined score of mental health distress using the Kessler 6 (K6) psychological scale. Unauthorized immigrants are present, but unidentified in the survey; they are combined with legally admitted immigrants and categorized as non-citizens. Despite controlling for age, feelings toward neighborhood safety, education, poverty status, race/ethnicity, years in U.S., physical health and employment among others, non-citizens indicate lower levels of mental distress than either U.S. born citizens or naturalized citizens. Results show that despite more precarious legal and socio-economic positions for non-citizens in the U.S., they consider their day-to-day lives as less stressful than other groups do.

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Presented in Poster Session 7