Methods: Data were responses from 127 Hispanic and Somali youth participating in a community-based survey assessing adaptation and mental health among immigrant and refugee youth in Minnesota. Data collection is ongoing with 300 youth respondents anticipated by February 2019. Multivariable linear regression models, adjusting for gender, age, family composition, and ethnicity estimated the direct effects of perceived context of reception (negative and positive) and coping styles (approach and avoidant) on youths’ symptoms of depression and anxiety. Interaction terms tested whether coping styles moderated the associations between contexts of reception and depression and anxiety symptoms.
Positive perceptions of a community’s receptivity to newcomers were inversely associated with symptoms of anxiety (ß: -4.0 SE: 1.6) and depression (ß: -1.2 SE: 0.41) while negative perceptions were associated with higher anxiety (ß: 3.97 SE: 1.67) and depression (ß: .68 SE: 0.21) scores. Avoidant coping was linked to increased anxiety (ß: 1.87 SE: 0.74) and depressive symptoms (ß:2.10 SE: 0.52) whereas approach coping was associated with fewer symptoms of depression (ß: -1.92, SE: 0.54). Approach coping also mitigated the effects of negative context of reception for symptoms of depression (p < 0 .05) but not anxiety.
Conclusion: Perceived contexts of reception and coping are key factors in immigrant and refugee youths’ psychological well-being. Our preliminary findings highlight the potential for prevention programs to improve mental health outcomes for adolescents adapting to life in the US during this critical developmental transition period. Training educators and practitioners to encourage multiculturalism in communities and youth groups and bolster adaptive coping skills among immigrant and refugee youth may help mitigate the negative consequences of community stressors.