Immigration, citizenship, and the mental health of adolescents.

PLoS ONE. 2018;13(5):e0196859 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0196859


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Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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Nicole Filion
Andrew Fenelon
Michel Boudreaux


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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

PURPOSE:To examine the reported mental health outcomes of adolescent foreign-born non-citizens and adolescent foreign-born U.S. citizens compared to adolescent U.S.-born citizens. METHODS:Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in the National Health Interview Survey, we compared mental health status of U.S.-born adolescent citizens to foreign-born citizens and non-citizens in the years 2010-2015, and examined how differences in emotional difficulty changed based on time spent in the U.S. RESULTS:Results suggest that non-citizen adolescents experience better mental health outcomes than U.S.-born citizens. However, the mental health status of foreign-born citizens is indistinguishable from that of the U.S.-born, after accounting for basic socio-demographic characteristics. The prevalence of emotional difficulty experienced by immigrant adolescents increased with a family's duration in the U.S. CONCLUSION:Our findings are consistent with a broader health advantage for the foreign-born, but we present new evidence that the mental health advantage of foreign-born adolescents exists only for non-citizens.