MA IDS Thesis Projects


Mental Health and Migration: An Assessment of the Impact that Cross-Cultural Differences and Mental Health Care Utilization Have on Successful Refugee Acculturation

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences


International Development and Service

Degree Name

International Development and Service, MA


Acculturation into the United States can be a challenging and problematic process for the refugees that relocate into Oregon each year. Past research has shown that successful acculturation into a new community is linked to the mental wellness of these individuals. The objectives of my research included 1) examining the differences between mental health in collectivist and individualist cultures relating to the conceptualization, stigmatization, and presentation of mental illness, 2) identifying the utilization rates of mental health resources and success of acculturation by select regions in Oregon for Asian immigrants, and 3) determining if the regions with higher utilization rates of mental health resources have higher success in refugee acculturation. A systematic review was conducted to ascertain the impact culture has on the conceptualization, stigmatization, somatization, and treatment of mental illness. A secondary analysis of survey data within Oregon revealed that Asian immigrants are substantially less acculturated than the general Oregon population. Although it was sought through various channels, mental health care utilization rates were not available for analysis; as such, acculturation and mental utilization rates could not be assessed statistically. Together, the results of the research highlighted the need for tracking immigrant utilization rates to determine where there are gaps in refugee care. Further research needs to be conducted to identify if a higher utilization of mental health care affects the acculturation process for refugees. This could provide insight into why Asian immigrants, specifically in Multnomah County, are struggling to acculturate into Oregon communities. A connection between them could help establish a more stress-free and healthy acculturation process that included culturally appropriate mental health care for refugees, allowing them to become equal and active members in their communities.

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