Barriers Experienced by Mexican Immigrants: Implications for Educational Achievement and Mental Health
The adversities faced by Latina/o individuals and their families in the U.S. negatively impact educational outcomes as well as their mental and physical health. These adversities are often related to immigration status and acculturation and include difficulties with immigration, language barriers, and discrimination. Given that recent immigrants often experience many barriers, it is important to understand their perceptions of these barriers and their impacts on their lives and educational opportunities. We investigated barriers (social, individual or environmental phenomena which hinder or restrict normal developmental achievement and educational attainment) in the lives of six, first-generation Mexican immigrants. Participants engaged in one to two hour semi- structured interviews reflecting on their perceptions of stressors, motivation and success in life. Using thematic analysis and grounded theory, the barriers identified include cultural, sociopolitical and social factors such as: life circumstances or cognitive barriers, barriers caused by safety concerns, acculturation or the immigration process, language barriers, and lack of resources. Implications for educators and mental health professionals are discussed.