Methods: Data for this study were drawn 108 participants who were surveyed in January 2011. Study participants were recruited from a school district in a community in Southern California with a high number or Latino immigrants. Participants were all Latino; 91% were immigrants with a mean of 14 years in the U.S.; 93% were female; and 71% had less than 9 years of education. SES was determined through an 8 item scale (a = .83). Perceived discrimination was determined through a 5 item scale (a= .82) based on a scale validated with Mexicans (Becerra et. al., 2010). Multivariate OLS regressions were run controlling for gender, level of education, and years in the U.S., to examine the relationship between SES and perceived discrimination on participants' perceptions of their children's mental health issues including: anger, separation anxiety from parents for short and extended periods of time, fear, and social avoidance.
Results: The results indicated that participants with lower levels of SES had significantly greater (p < .05) perceptions that their children were angry, had separation anxiety from parents for short and extended periods of time, were fearful, and avoided social situations. Higher levels of perceived discrimination were significantly related (p < .05) to participants' perceptions of fear among their children.
Implications: Contrary to previous studies that have found that although Latinos have higher rates of poverty, they have lower rates of mental health issues, the results of this study indicate that lower SES may be related to negative mental health issues in Latino children. These results suggest a need for further research to examine the impact of living in poverty and mental health issues in children of Latino immigrants. Higher levels of perceived discrimination were also related to participants' perceptions of fear among their children. Since perceived discrimination has been found to negatively impact health, Latinos in the U.S. may be at greater risk for negative health outcomes (Finch & Vega, 2003). Social work practitioners must realize that the extended economic crisis and the anti-immigrant policies in the U.S. may be negatively impacting the mental health of Latino immigrants and their children. Social workers must assess for these possible mental health issues and develop or incorporate culturally appropriate intervention strategies to effectively address these issues.