Date of Conferral







Susana Verdinelli


Immigration is a contributing factor to population growth in the United States. Ethiopian immigrants who are residing in the United States constitute the second-largest African immigrant group next to Nigeria. The effect of immigrants' identity formation and acculturation process on their social and emotional wellness has drawn behavioral and social scientists' attention. Still, limited research has been devoted to exploring Ethiopian immigrants' acculturation and identity formation processes and how these processes shape 1.5- and second-generation immigrants' perceptions of mental health-related issues. This phenomenological study explored identity formation, acculturation processes, and mental health beliefs in 1.5- and second-generation Ethiopian immigrants. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 participants. Inductive analysis was used to determine the emergence of 4 themes: (a) participants' acculturation struggle, (b) ethnic identity challenges, (c) protective factors that helped participants to sustain and overcome the challenges and difficulties they faced through the acculturation and identity formation processes, and (d) heritage-based mental health perceptions. These findings have the potential to generate multicultural awareness among immigrants' parents, social workers, educators, policy makers, and mental health providers regarding the challenges young immigrants encounter during the acculturation and ethnic identity formation processes