Abstract: Trump Era Policy-Related Stress, Nativity, and Social Support: Mental Health Impacts for Latinx Adults in the Southeast (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

552P Trump Era Policy-Related Stress, Nativity, and Social Support: Mental Health Impacts for Latinx Adults in the Southeast

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Mary Lehman Held, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Nashville, TN
Jennifer First, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Melody Huslage, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Background and Purpose. Recent immigration enforcement efforts, such as an increase in large-scale raids, have specifically targeted the Latinx community and instilled a deep, persistent fear of detention and deportation (Asad, 2020; Hernandes, 2019). Latinx adults have experienced elevated rates of stress in the sociopolitical context under Trump era policies that might elevate risk of depression and anxiety (Becerra et al., 2020). Yet, little is known about the experiences of Latinx adults in the Southeastern US, which primarily constitutes a new immigrant destination that has fewer formal supports and smaller Latinx communities (Atiles & Bohon, 2002). The purpose of this study was to examine the direct and indirect effects of policy-related stress under the Trump administration, nativity (US- or foreign-born), and social support on depression and anxiety.

Methods. Survey data were collected from 314 Latinx adults in the southeastern US. Guided by a risk and protective framework, we used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test a measurement and structural model using R statistical software. Using a two-step procedure (Kline, 2016), we first tested a measurement model to establish that the latent variables were well explained by the indicators. Next, we estimated a structural model for hypothesized direct and indirect relationships between Trump-era policy stress, nativity, and social support with the outcome variables anxiety and depression symptoms. The indirect effects were tested by inspecting the 95% confidence interval of 1,000 bootstrapped resamples of the product of coefficients to ensure the confidence intervals do not include zero, and therefore the effect is considered statistically significant (Preacher & Hayes, 2008).

Results. Just over half (54%) of the sample was female, 47.3% were immigrants, and the mean age was 29.3 (SD = 13.2). For SEM, after establishing the measurement model, we estimated the structural relationships between the observed and latent variables. The structural model achieved acceptable fit, model fit statistics included: χ2(201) = 350.324, p < .01; CFI = .94; TLI = 0.93; RMSEA = 0.05; SRMR = 0.05, and allowed for the testing of our hypotheses. Higher policy-related stress and being foreign-born each had a positive, significant relationship with depression and anxiety. Social support was significantly and inversely related to each outcome and had a significant indirect effect on the relationship between policy-related stress with depression (β = .101, p<.01, [CI 95%: 0.029, 0.186]) and anxiety (β = .086, p <.01, [CI 95%: 0.032, 0.240]).

Conclusions & Implications. Findings extend the literature on Latinx adults and policy-related stress by assessing stress specific to Trump era policies among a sample in the Southeast (Becerra et al., 2020; Hatzenbuehler et al., 2017; Lopez et al., 2017). Latinx immigrant adults, and especially those with higher policy-related stress, were found to be at elevated risk of depression and anxiety. Culturally and linguistically competent services are essential to effective outreach and service provision. Further, providing services that strengthen social connections might serve a valuable role in promoting improved mental health status. Future research should examine additional protective factors, including those specific to both immigrant and non-immigrant Latinx adults.