Help Wanted: Social and Economic Stressors and Mental Health among Latino Day Laborers
Hill, Clara Marie
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Background. Latino immigrants to the United States experience high levels of depression and anxiety, two common and disabling mood disorders. Latino day laborers may be especially vulnerable to these mood disorders due to pervasive experience of minority stressors, including discrimination and acculturation stress. The goal of the present paper is to describe the prevalence and severity of depression and anxiety as well as associated demographic characteristics, social and economic stressors, and substance use among Latino day laborers. Methods. We analyzed cross-sectional survey data collected from 101 adult, male, immigrant Latino day laborers from a King County, Washington day labor worker center. We described the prevalence of depression (PHQ-9) and anxiety (GAD-7) and associations with demographic characteristics, social stressors and supports (social support, acculturation stress, homelessness, and discrimination), and substance use. Results. Sixty-seven percent of the sample was from Mexico, 82% reported earning less then $400 per week, 60% had less than a high school education, and all spoke primarily Spanish. Men reported experiences of discrimination (62%), low levels of social support (48%), and high levels of acculturation stress (53%). Sixty-six percent of men met criteria for unhealthy alcohol use, 39% smoked cigarettes, and 18% used marijuana. The mean PHQ-9 score (8.0) indicated mild depression, and 39% had scores above 10, indicating moderate or severe depression. The mean GAD-7 score (5.1) indicated mild anxiety, and 25% had scores over 10, indicating moderate or severe anxiety. Depression and anxiety were highly correlated (r=0.77). Higher levels of depression and anxiety were associated with being single, homelessness, experiencing discrimination, high levels of acculturation stress, and marijuana use. Discussion. Our findings suggest that Latino day laborers experience substantial social stressors and may be more vulnerable to poor mental health, and add to the literature by documenting the prevalence and severity of both depression and anxiety in this understudied yet highly vulnerable population. Future research should assess the relationship between social and economic stressors and mental health using longitudinal studies with larger samples.
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