Mental Health in Immigrants Versus Native Population: A Systematic Review of the Literature

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Abstract

The relationship between psychopathology and migration presents unresolved questions.

Objectives

To determine whether there is a higher incidence of mental illness among immigrants, to describe the nosologic differences between immigrant and native populations, and to identify the risk factors involved of immigration.

Methods

A systematic review was conducted using the PubMed, Science Direct, ISI, Scopus, Psycinfo, Cochrane, and Cuiden databases. The search strategy was conducted using the MeSH thesaurus for the controlled terms “mental disorders,” “mental health,” “transients and migrants,” “immigrants,” and “epidemiology.” The quality of the articles was analyzed by using the Equator Guidelines, following checklists according to the methodological design of the studies by two independent reviewers.

Results

From a total of 817 studies found, 21 met the inclusion criteria. Out of the 21 studies selected, 13 showed a higher prevalence of mental illness.

Conclusions

Migration represents a major challenge, but it does not lead exclusively to mental distress. Immigrants experience more problems in depression, anxiety, and somatic disorders, pathologies related directly to the migration process and stress suffered. Resources should be oriented to primary and community care.

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