Study shows Latina immigrants have higher stress levels

By Estefania Florez

For Nicole Flores the hardest part about immigrating to America was learning a new language. 

Flores, sophomore in FAA, immigrated from Bolivia when she was 16 years old and has experienced more stress than a typical teenage girl. 

“When you come from another country, it is really hard to get accustomed to the social differences,” Flores said. “Being an immigrant, you’re forced to work and go to school at the same time, if your parents don’t make enough money, so there is a financial disadvantage.” 

A recent University study found that Latina immigrants report higher levels of stress in their daily lives. The study, conducted by assistant professor Venera Bekteshi, focuses on the impact of acculturative stress and uses data from the California Health Interview Survey and the National Latino and Asian American Study. Bekteshi chose her research topic because she believes that studies on Latina are lacking.

“Understanding the context of acculturative stress and psychological distress for Latina immigrants is important, not only because of their numbers in the U.S., but also because compared to Latino men and non Latino counterparts in the U.S., Latina women tend to report higher rates of psychological distress,” Bekteshi said. 

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    Flores believes being a Latina immigrant has been stressful because she often feels looked down upon.

    “People think you are under educated because of the language barrier, and so people might not expect you to do well in school, and they underestimate your skills and knowledge,” Flores said. 

    Bekteshi explained there are many factors that contribute to Latina distress, which should be addressed continuously. 

    “When Latina women face many negative factors in their environment, other factors influence their acculturative stress,” Bekteshi said. “These negative factors included discrimination (daily and racial), financial constraints, family conflict and difficulties in visiting family abroad.”

    She also believes her study can have a great impact on students aspiring practice-related careers, as well as the Latino culture.

    “As our students of Latino background increase, this is especially important in effective teaching and learning,” Bekteshi said.

    Bekteshi said the movement between the United States and respective Latino countries should be better facilitated, as research showed that stress levels increased for women who were not able to visit family at home due to financial difficulties.

    “Family is a very important source of support for this group of women and I hope that immigration policy emphasizes its social service programs,” Bekteshi said. 

    Estefania can be reached at [email protected]