Perceptions of mental health among recently immigrated Mexican adolescents

Carolyn M. Garcia, Elizabeth M. Saewyc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are high among Latino adolescents in the U.S., many of whom are immigrants. Immigration during adolescence creates risk factors for mental health problems. The purpose of this study was to explore the health-related perceptions of Mexican-origin immigrant adolescents to inform the design of culturally and developmentally appropriate mental health services. This focused ethnography was guided by Bronfenbrenner's ecological framework and symbolic interactionism. Fourteen adolescents were recruited from two non-health-based community settings. Data from one-to-one semi-structured interviews and a visual narrative project were coded and analyzed inductively. Three thematic patterns were identified: "mentally healthy," "mentally unhealthy," and "health promotion." Increased awareness of cultural influences and immigration on Latino adolescents' mental health is needed. Mental health nurses are in a unique position to educate and to influence accessibility of services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-54
Number of pages18
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was supported in part by grants R03 MC 01029-01 (New Investigator Award, PI: Garcia), T80-MC00021-12 (Center for Adolescent Nursing, Director: Bearinger) and T71 MC00025-01 (Leadership Education in Adolescent Health; Director: N. Singh) from The Maternal and Child Health Bureau, (Title V, Social Security Act) Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services; and grants from the University of Minnesota Graduate School and Zeta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.


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