Mental Health and COVID-19 Pandemic Stressors Among Latina/o/x College Students with Varying Self and Parental Immigration Status

Sydney Giron ’26

Figure 1: The Latina/o/x community experiences unique pandemic-related stressors in relation to self/parental documentation status.

The COVID-19 pandemic produced significant levels of reported psychological distress for individuals worldwide. Relative to a baseline, a higher prevalence of depression (33.7%), anxiety (31.9%), and stress (29.6%) were evident in the general population. However, college students experienced an exacerbated array of stressors. Stressors such as academic/job performance, sociability, and health concerns for themselves and their loved ones contributed to psychological decline, lack of concentration, motivation, and sleep. Although previous findings suggest an overall decline in mental health, little to no literature has explored stressors unique to marginalized communities, specifically the Latina/o/x population. Laura Enriquez and colleagues from the University of California Irvine attempted to determine whether self and/or parental immigration status impacts mental health and pandemic stressors in a Latina/o/x college student population. They hypothesized that Latina/o/x undocumented and U.S citizen college students with undocumented parents would face worsened psychological well-being, unique pandemic stressors, and have access to fewer mental health resources as compared to their Latina/o/x U.S citizen counterparts with parents of lawful status. 

In this study, researchers collected quantitative and categorical survey data from March to June 2020 of 1,600 Latina/o/x undergraduate students from the University of California system. The sample was composed of undocumented students, students who are U.S. citizens with a minimum of one undocumented parent, and students who are U.S. citizens with parents of lawful status. Findings in the quantitative data found no significant difference in the severity of mental health impacts by self/parental immigration status. Furthermore, categorical data established commonalities in pandemic stressors such as financial insecurity, COVID-19 health concerns, academic challenges, and social disruptions across all groups. A surprising finding included Latina/o/x college students with undocumented parents experience an additional stressor of legal vulnerabilities. Access to necessary psychological services was also limited to those of self/parental undocumented status due to anxieties and fear relating to their legal situation. 

Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic induced significant levels of negative mental health impacts among individuals in the Latina/o/x community. However, no significant difference in severity was displayed in groups of varying parental documentation status. This may be an indication of how Latina/o/x communities have previously endured stressors relating to legal vulnerability, explaining their psychological resilience also known as stress inoculation. Future studies could examine how undocumented immigration status contributes to increasing health disparities to further investigate the impact of structural inequalities in relation to stress. Such identifications can assist in developing policy interventions for improving psychological services for marginalized communities. 

Works Cited: 

[1] Enriquez, L.E., Morales, A.E., Rodriguez, V.E. et al. Mental Health and COVID-19 Pandemic Stressors Among Latina/o/x College Students with Varying Self and Parental Immigration Status. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 10, 282–295 (2023).
[2] Image retrieved from:


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