Priority Populations

Challenges and Strategies to Maintaining Emotional Health: Qualitative Perspectives of Mexican Immigrant Mothers

Mexican immigrant mothers face many challenges that put them at increased risk for poor mental health. To understand the factors that lead to the development of depressive symptoms among Mexican immigrant mothers, we analyzed data from 20 qualitative, semistructured interviews. Participants included low-income, Mexican-born mothers of young children living in North Carolina.  Most of the mothers in our study reported experiencing depressive symptoms after becoming parents. They expressed their symptoms as feelings of sadness, depression, loneliness, shame, and anxiety. Economic stressors contributing to their emotional health included financial obligations, work, and child care.  Social stressors included family separation, social isolation, and discrimination.  To cope with these stressors, mothers relied heavily on social networks and community resources. Our results suggest that a combination of both risk and resiliency factors shape the emotional health of Mexican immigrant mothers.