The fight itself can be a coping mechanism in the face of uncertainty and discrimination, says Germán Cadenas, PhD, a counseling psychologist at Lehigh University whose work focuses on the psychology of undocumented immigrants.
Germán A. Cadenas studies the link between the development of critical consciousness and Hispanic DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students’ intent to persist at public universities.
During a time of political unrest in his homeland of Venezuela, a young Germán Cadenas accompanied his mother and brother to Arizona, where his father was working to send money back home to support the family. “We came just to be with my father for Christmas,” he says. “We wanted to see him and be together.”
Dr. Germán A. Cadenas joined in on the popular podcast "The Undocumented Black Girl" with with Denea Joseph. The topic focused on cultural competency in the mental health profession as related to Black Lives Matter. Dr. Cadenas is an assistant professor with the Lehigh Counseling Psychology program.
Stress, fear, and anxiety are familiar negative emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but these states of emotions are all too common for individuals impacted by the immigration system. During this unprecedented time, DACA recipients battle against the pandemic as well as an impending Supreme Court decision on the fate of the DACA program. This further complicates the mental health experiences of DACA recipients, as they cope with a crisis that adds further uncertainty to their futures.
In light of this difficult time, Germán Cadenas, Ph.D., put together a list of strategies to cope with immigration-related stress. This resource includes reflective exercises such as listing your personal strengths and finding a community of support.
Immigrants face unique stressors that may contribute to mental health problems — and are less likely to seek help for them. Here are some of the best ways for immigrant communities to start therapy. The immigrant community faces a number of stressors. Pursuing citizenship, legal residency and much of the rhetoric surrounding immigration can be anxiety-inducing. And while immigrants often face unique stressors that can contribute to mental health problems, research shows that they are less likely to seek help. Financial barriers, privacy concerns and social stigma tend to get in the way.
Two years ago, amid the liveliness of the first weeks of a new academic year, Vicki Jagdeo ’21 sensed a certain quietness around the Lehigh campus—not the usual type of quietness, as there was certainly an energy among students who were reuniting after summer vacation. Instead, Jagdeo was noticing a lack of conversation about immigration, even as the issue of U.S. border security raged in the news.