Send to

Choose Destination
J Consult Clin Psychol. 2017 Oct;85(10):927-936. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000237.

Mental disorders among undocumented Mexican immigrants in high-risk neighborhoods: Prevalence, comorbidity, and vulnerabilities.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Rice University.
Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico.
Department of Psychology, University of Denver.
Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego State University.
Office of Graduate Studies, University of Central Florida.



This study aimed to: (a) provide population-based estimates for the prevalence of mental disorders, including substance use, among undocumented Mexican immigrants; (b) assess for relevant comorbidities; and (c) identify sociodemographic, immigration and contextual vulnerabilities associated with meeting criteria for a disorder.


This cross-sectional study used Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) to collect and analyze data from clinical interviews with 248 undocumented Mexican immigrants residing near the California-Mexico border. The M.I.N.I. Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview was used as the primary outcome of interest. For all analyses, inferential statistics accounted for design effects and sample weights to produce weighted estimates. Logistic regression was used in multivariate analyses.


Overall, 23% of participants met criteria for a disorder (95% CI = 17.1; 29.0). The most prevalent disorders were Major Depressive Disorder (14%, 95% CI = 10.2; 18.6), Panic Disorder (8%, 95% CI = 5.0; 11.9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (7%, 95% CI = 3.4; 9.8). Approximately 4% of participants met criteria for a substance use disorder (95% CI = 1.2; 6.1). After controlling for covariates, being 18 to 25 years and experiencing distress from postmigration living difficulties were significantly associated with meeting criteria for a disorder.


Undocumented Mexican immigrants are an at-risk population for mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety disorders. Given that distress from postmigration living difficulties is associated with meeting criteria for a disorder, revisiting policies and developing new alternatives to facilitate access and provision of context-sensitive mental health services for this population is necessary to protect the human rights of these immigrants and that of their U.S. families. (PsycINFO Database Record

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center