Teach dream

Health and Well-being

Questions to think about:

– How can undocumented youth navigate our public health system in order to access benefits in New York City?

-What do we notice about the impact of students’ status on their emotional well-being?

-How do we support youth who show signs of troubled emotions?

Why this matters:

Undocumented Status Intersects With the Health and Emotional Well Being of Youth BECAUSE..

  • BARRIERS to Care

In 2012, the Obama Administration denied undocumented youth access to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  This continues the exclusion of more than 11 million undocumented Americans from health care that includes Medicaid and many other insurance options.  As a result, nearly two thirds of undocumented Latinos are uninsured and many undocumented youth do not have access to regular or preventive healthcare.

  • EXPERIENCES of Trauma and Stress

          As migrants, undocumented youth have a wide variety of experiences.  Some of these include traumatic experiences of emotional, physical, economic, and political violence.  Furthermore, living in the United States as an undocumented person creates additional stress.  One student explains: “Being undocumented means instability, uncertainty… You feel locked in a box. And it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be like this for you don’t know how many years.”

Sources: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1306636 , http://www.chicago-bureau.org/?p=1468

What’s below:

1. Communication and identity

2. Trauma/Mental Health issues specific to immigrants

3. Accessing health care in NYC (we need more here!!!)


Community and identity


Born in 2010, Ask Angy is the first undocumented youth advice column. It began in the New York State Youth Leadership Council because there was no space to ask questions or seek advice. Ask Angy is a serious but often light-hearted video blog that deals with everyday life of being undocumented in New York City, but extends to issues countrywide. This blog is a space for youth to email their concerns, questions, stories or simply ask for help without being judged. Email them to Angy at Angy@nysylc.org. Angy openly and honestly discusses serious issues like future uncertainty, deferred action and interviewing for jobs as an undocumented individual.

Trauma/ Mental health issues specific to immigrants

Therapy Resources for Undocumented Young People in NYC, many of which are FREE (Current as of 08/2013):

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.12.05 AM copy

Mangual Figueroa, Ariana. “I Have Papers So I Can Go Anywhere!”: Everyday Talk About Citizenship in a Mixed-Status Mexican Family, Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 11 (5): 291-311, 2012.

“This article draws from ethnographic data collected during a 23-month-language socialization study of mixed-status Mexican families living in the New Latino Diaspora. The analysis focuses on the ways in which siblings in one family talk about citizenship during a discursive event [the researcher calls] the Planning for the Future Routine. The findings show that siblings communicate two key understandings during everyday conversations: first, the relevance of migratory status to their day-to-day lives and second, their family’s shared conventions for talking about citizenship status in the home.”

Novoa, Monica. “Beyond Politics: How Undocumented Youth Can Find Emotional Support.” Colorlines, December 2011. Retrieved from http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/12/joaquin_luna_and_suicide_prevention.html

“There is not an undocumented person or ally, family member or loved one that has not witnessed or experienced the effects that systematic dehumanization and alienation can have on the body, mind and spirit…. Given the seriousness of the situation, we sought out friends and experts to spread the word about mental health awareness, and support. We are thankful to our friend Sonia Guinansaca at the New York State Youth Leadership Council, for her candid and heartfelt testimony. And we also spoke with Chicago-based social worker Jacqueline Luna, an ally who supports young people organizing via the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) and the The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA).”

Perez Foster, Rose Marie. “When Immigration is Trauma: Guidelines for the Individual and Family Clinician” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 71 (2): 153-170, 2001.

“This paper considers two important strands in the contemporary immigrant mental health literature 1) the distinction made between stressors that are endemic to most immigrant experiences vs. those migration stressors that precipitate trauma per se; and 2) clinical guidelines that continue to refine the assessment of immigrants’ presenting mental health problems, given the provision of services in institutions that are foreign to both the language and idioms of distress of the populations being served. Case vignettes highlight the research findings and practice recommendations.”

Perez Foster, Rose Marie. “The New Faces of Childhood: Pre-migration Trauma in the United States.” Journal for Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.

“This paper was originally written for presentation at the 15th International Congress on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry… A new literature is emerging on the multiple developmental stressors and clinical needs of children who are immigrants…. The cumulative biological, psychological, social, and economic pressures of migration and readjustment for all people are well articulated in the literature. When these same stressors occur during the developmental stage, however, their impact assumes a uniquely mutative force in the real and symbolic life of the child.”

Undocuhealth.org  http://undocuhealth.org/

UndocuHealth is a project of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance– an undocumented youth-LED network of grassroots organizations, campus-based student groups and individuals committed to achieving equality for all immigrant youth, regardless of their legal status.

Accessing Mental Health Care in NYC

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