Skip Over Navigation Links
National Institutes of Health

Science Update
July 11, 2007

New Insights on how Mental Health is Influenced by Culture and Immigration Status

Culturally-relevant research provides clues that may help reduce health disparities

A special issue of Research in Human Development, published in June 2007, examines current trends in prevalence and risk factors for mental disorders across the lifespan in diverse U.S. minority populations. Past research suggests that factors such as culture, race, ethnicity, gender and age can significantly influence overall health, as well as health care attitudes and access, and responses to treatment. A better understanding of the complex role that cultural backgrounds and diverse experiences play in mental disorders is crucial, as NIMH strives to create personalized treatment for those with mental disorders.

Originally presented at a workshop organized by NIMH and the Family Research Consortium IV, the five articles in this issue provide insight into NIMH-sponsored national studies of mental health among minority populations in the United States, potential cultural risk factors for suicide among Native American youth, as well as one of the first major studies of mental illness among ethnically diverse teens. NIMH research scientist Cheryl Boyce, PhD, and Andrew Fuligni, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, discuss in an introductory article the main themes represented in the special issue and particular cultural considerations that appear to be the most relevant at different stages of life for the mental health of U.S. minority populations. Recommendations for further research may help inform efforts to reduce health disparities.

Notable findings from this special issue include:


Boyce CA, Fuligni AJ. Issues for Developmental Research Among Racial/Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Families. Res Hum Dev. 2007 Jun;4(1&2):1-17.