Changes in Social Status and Post-Migration Mental Health Outcomes in West African Immigrants

Sagal Ahmed, Fordham University


Immigration comes with rapid changes in social status that have effects on post-migration mental health. Research with nonimmigrant populations has identified relevant social status indicators, but these indicators are not sufficient to address changes that are uniquely relevant to immigrants. This study aimed to identify social status indicators that change during the process of migration, such as work status, spousal reunion, and immigration status, and to examine their association with distress using variable- and person-centered analyses. Data indicating changes during migration was drawn from an archival data set from a community-based participatory research project with West African immigrants in New York City. Social status change variables were created using pre- and post-migration demographic information. Mental health outcomes were the Anxiety, Depression, and Somatic subscales of the Brief Symptom Inventory and the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. Regression analysis suggested that several social status indicators predicted wellbeing in this population, R2 range .15—.34. Ward’s method clustering suggested that three social status profiles existed, characterized by changes in work and changes in marriage or cohabitation. The cluster with the greatest positive changes in work was all female, and had the highest depression scores. Findings suggest that not all types of change (i.e., negative, positive) in social status across migration are meaningful for post-migration mental health outcomes. Findings also suggest that changing gender roles across migration play an important role in post-migration mental health.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black studies|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Ahmed, Sagal, "Changes in Social Status and Post-Migration Mental Health Outcomes in West African Immigrants" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10621224.