Mental Health

Immigration & Mental Health: How Therapy Can Help

Immigrants and refugees experience a lot of stress. Mental health is often ignored. California is home to over 11 million immigrants. The mental health of immigrants and refugees is important. Therapy can help.  

Immigrants sometimes suffer trauma from war, poverty, and loss of loved ones. Children of immigrants can also experience stress. During COVID-19, researchers have seen an increase in mental health issues. Immigrant families are a part of this increase. These families make up a large portion of employees who work in farms, grocery stores, hospitals, and restaurants. This increases their risk of COVID exposure.  An L.A. Times article reported that Filipinos are among the hardest hit in California because many work in healthcare. They often live with large families and suffer from conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. This can make it harder to recover from COVID. Filipinos are among the top three largest immigrant populations in CA. Many struggle with mental health while they care for themselves and others in their families.

While immigrants and refugees struggle with mental health , research shows that problems with money, privacy concerns, and the feeling of shame , prevents people from finding support. Talking about these problems and providing culturally informed mental health services can be encouraging . Mental health services should be provided in different languages and costs should be kept low. This can help build trust, increase health and wellness, and strengthen the experience for immigrants. 

AllyNetwork wants to offer support and access to care for immigrants and refugees. Please take a look at AllyNetwork’s list of providers in your area. Call them to ask about their experience working in communities like yours.  

Tips and Resources for Mental Health Support:

  • If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Counselors are available 24/7 to talk, answer questions, and help you during this challenging time. 
  • If you have insurance, your insurance company can give you a list of therapists who can see you. Call therapists and ask if they have experiences working with people from your culture and with your specific needs.
  • If you do not have insurance and you are a student, find out how your school can help. Health services are often included with tuition. 
  • If you are not a student, your local college may also be a place that has low-cost, and sometimes free clinics with therapists-in-training.
  • If you regularly attend religious or spiritual services (church, synagogue, temple) you can ask a trusted faith leader for support to access mental health services. 

Mental Health Resources :

  • Integral Care  Mental Health Hotline : Call 512-472-HELP, free 24-hour mental health hotline with 15 languages.
  • SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Line: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text "TalkWithUs" to 66746, offers trained crisis counselors. For Spanish, call 1-800-985-5990 and press 2 or text "Hablanos" to 66746. For other languages, call 1-800-985-5990 and indicate your preferred language to be connected with an interpreter .
  • 1-800-662-4357 - National Helpline ( substance abuse and mental health ) offering service referrals in English and Spanish.
  • COVID-19 Guidance for Immigrant Californians
  • What Do I Need to Know About Privacy and Confidentiality?
  • Self-Care Tips For Asian Americans Dealing With Racism Amid Coronavirus
  • California Youth Immigrant Justice Alliance resource page