Immigration & Acculturative Stress
Immigration is a major life event that can be difficult and stressful for individuals and families. Moving to a new country can present a number of challenges including:
- Loss of family and social support.
- Loss of former economic and social status.
- Language barriers.
- Lack of familiarity with the education and health systems.
- Loss of professional status.
- Incongruent cultural values and practices.
- Parental fear of a loss of cultural heritage in their children.
- Children experiencing conflict between their values and those of their parents.
- Children feeling caught between the opposing values of their parents and their peers.
- In families where parents do not speak English, children may need to translate and facilitate communication on behalf of their parents, resulting in a power shift from the adults to the children.
The stress experienced by immigrants that is associated with adapting, integrating or assimilating to the new culture is known as Acculturative Stress. Acculturative stress can lead to a higher risk of developing mental health problems. The effects were profound for certain populations, such as women, children, and individuals with disabilities or limited financial resources. Some of the mental health problems commonly seen as a result of acculturative stress are:
- Low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness.
- Anxiety Disorders.
- Adjustment Disorders.
- Depression and Suicide.
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
- Family conflict.
- Disruptive behaviour and other problems in school children.
- Adolescent depression and suicide.
- Relationship difficulties.
Some of the techniques that can help individuals cope with immigration and acculturative stress are:
- Helping clients to understand the nature of their difficulties.
- Setting clear goals.
- Building strong social supports.
- Other cognitive-behavioural strategies that are tailored to the specific difficulties experienced by the individual.
In addition, there is increasing evidence that help from culturally- and linguistically-appropriate professionals lessens the development and impact of mental health problems and enhances outcomes of acculturation.
- FORUM: Coping with Immigration Stress – MigrationHelp
- Tips on how to cope with cross-cultural stress – iCultureLink
- Stress Tips – LIFE Psychology
If you would like to find out more about our treatment for Immigration & Acculturative Stress, or book an appointment with one of our psychologists who specialises in this area, please book an appointment or call the clinic on 1300 084 200. We offer therapy in English as well as in Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, and Laotian.