The Effect of Perceived Discrimination and Documentation Status on Immigrant Undergraduate Use of Campus Counseling Services



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Undocumented immigrant undergraduates experience more distress and higher levels of depression and anxiety than their documented counterparts (Arbona & Jimenez, 2014; Casabona, 2014). Even with available campus resources, undocumented immigrant undergraduates report not seeking counseling services due to mistrust or fear of documentation status disclosure (Muñoz, 2013; Stebelton & Alexio, 2015). Further, these students report experiences of discrimination with campus staff (Suarez-Orozco et al., 2015). However, to date, very little quantitative research has been conducted in this population. The current study aimed to examine undocumented immigrant students’ use of campus counseling services and the potential moderating effect of perceived discrimination. Participants were recruited online at seven Texas universities and divided into five groups for analyses: U.S. born students (control group), immigrant citizens, documented immigrant, Deferred Action to Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and undocumented immigrants. First, correlation analyses found a negative relation between age and depression, anxiety, stress, and perceived discrimination. Chi-square analysis found no evidence of significant group differences in endorsing the dichotomized use of campus counseling services, perhaps due to sample size limitations. Second, separate one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests found no statistically significant group differences in the number of counseling sessions attended in the previous semester or during college. Third, a logistic regression examining counseling use dichotomously indicated a moderating effect of perceived discrimination on counseling use for documented immigrants, indicating the higher level of perceived discrimination documented immigrants experience, the less likely they are to use campus counseling services. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.



Undocumented, Immigrant, Undergraduate, Counseling, Mental Health