Wall after wall
This thesis studies access to and usage of behavioral health services by undocumented Latina migrants in the United States, while also analyzing current and former immigration and mental health care policy. There have been many investigations into the specific mental health conditions faced by this population, but I observed a dearth of study examining why and how existing behavioral health services struggle to provide for these women. Furthermore, many previously conducted studies discuss the issue of mental health care for the undocumented solely from the perspective of outsiders; in contrast, this thesis centers the perspectives and experiences of undocumented Latina migrants throughout. In order to do so, this study uses a cross-sectional qualitative research design that includes a literature and policy document review and key informant interviews with migrant women and service providers. This research allowed me to examine how U.S. systems fall far short of addressing the mental health needs of undocumented Latina migrants. I ultimately arrived at the conclusion that a complex matrix of socioeconomic, political, and cultural factors have led to the current status of this group as disenfranchised from adequate mental health care. I identify systemic, cultural, and organizational barriers to behavioral health care for undocumented Latina migrants including Latino beliefs about health, medicine, and healing/suffering; structures and views that subjugate non-citizen people of color into positions of poverty and social disadvantage; and the lack of Latino Spanish-speaking and culturally fluent providers in the U.S. mental health care system. These findings illustrate the multiple layers of this issue and lay the groundwork for future reform to address these stark disparities.