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AP 41- Children left behind during immigration: Repercussions on the mental health of Latin-American mothers and fathers Ampliar

AP 41- Children left behind during immigration: Repercussions on the mental health of Latin-American mothers and fathers

Teresa Kirchner, Camila Patiño, Maria Forns


ISBN: 1988-5253 ·
2011 · 16.5x23.5 cm

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AP 41

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Emigrating and having to leave children behind may be a risk factor for the mental health of immigrants. This study
aimed to compare the psychological symptoms reported by immigrant mothers and fathers who took their children with them
with those who left their children behind. The sample comprised 213 Latin American immigrants (123 women and 90 men).
The results showed that mothers who did not have their children with them reported more psychological symptoms than
those who did. Few differences were observed in the case of fathers, except that those who had their children with them reported
more symptoms related with somatization. After controlling for possible confounding variables (‘time since immigration’,
‘having a job’, ‘legal status’ and ‘social support’) it is concluded that for mothers not being accompanied by one’s
children explains the largest proportion of the psychological symptoms analyzed, although the time since immigration also
accounts for some of the variance in the case of depressive symptomatology and general distress. It is likely that the despair
and frustration felt by mothers grows as time goes on and they remain unable to reunite the family. These results may be
useful in terms of designing prevention and intervention programs with immigrant mothers.

Keywords: immigration, mental health, children left behind, gender differences, Latin-American mothers and fathers.