Resilience in the Face of Adversity: African Immigrants’ Mental Health Needs and the American Transition

Author(s): Adeyinka M. AKINSULURE-SMITH


The aims of this qualitative study were to explore key sources of emotional distress and coping strategies among West African immigrants. Thirty-eight adult West African immigrants participated in six semistructured, open-ended focus group sessions. Focus group data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. While participants reported high levels of psychological distress associated with racial/cultural discrimination, intimate partner violence, parenting, extended-family demands, and problematic immigration status, they demonstrated resilience and the ability to identify a range of coping strategies that draw on their cultural heritage. Only two of the participants reported having used psychological services; both outcomes were negative. The findings of this study are considered in terms of their clinical implications.

 Keywords: African immigrants, mental health, stressors, resilience

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