Immigration to North East America: The Impact on Kenyans Mental Health

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Immigrants lose their unique psychosocial context when their experiences are subsumed under pan ethnic labels such as Hispanics, Latina/o, Asians or Africans. The stress from navigating different cultural contexts becomes problematic when immigrants operate within mainstream cultural norms that are in conflict with their traditional values. The number of Kenyan immigrants to the United States has steadily increased since the 1980s. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to study the lived experience of Kenyan immigrants by focusing on their integration experience and how the integration processes may have affected their mental health. The transition theory and social constructionism theory were used as the theoretical lens for this study. Data were collected using semi structured interviews conducted with 7 Kenyan men and women over the age of 18 from Northeastern United States who had immigrated from 1996 to the present day. Coding was used to analyze the data by cross-case analysis to search for themes and patterns. Data analysis revealed discrimination, alienation, shame, overcompensation, and cultural shock from the Kenyan immigrants’ perspective.

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