All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Patricia Drentea

Advisory Committee Members

Cindy L Cain

Olivio J Clay

Verna M Keith

Dayna Watson

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


Concerning mental health outcomes, immigrant youth are a particularly vulnerable population. The lack of health care access contributes to aggrandized and unmet mental health needs. This research explores how the social positions of immigrant families influence stress exposure and contribute to a worsening of well-being. Past research points to the societal stressors experienced by these young people, as significant predictors of their well-being. But what occurs when the source of stress originates within the home? Specifically, this study examines how stress, educational expectations and academic achievement influence the depressive symptomatology of immigrant youth. Education is a widely recognized predictor of well-being. The importance of education in immigrant households can lead to high academic expectations, which can further exacerbate the stress process within the youth, whether they are (un)able to meet the standards. Grounded in the stress process perspective—particularly Turner’s iteration of the Pearlin model—the study investigates the role social and personal resources play in mediating and/or moderating the relationship between stress exposure and depressive outcomes. Other important frameworks that inform this research include the status attainment model and Andersen’s health care utilizations framework. Drawing on two nationally representative longitudinal surveys conducted from 1991-2004: the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), 1991-2006, and the National Study of American Life-Adolescent Supplement (NSAL-A), 2001-2004, I examine if parent expectation of academic success contribute to a worsening of the psychological well-being of immigrant youth. Additional focus is given to how cultural and economic barriers impede access to health care in these populations. Findings reveal that what is operationalized as an academic stressor, in fact could be protective against depression outcomes. Support is shown for resources, as they both mediate and moderate the relationship between stress exposure and depressive outcomes. These findings demonstrate the importance of the family unit as a resource against depression, and ultimately illustrate the need for creative policy recommendations and interventions concerning immigrant youth and their families.



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