UCLA Labor Center

Undocumented and Uninsured Part 4: The Power of a Healthy Community

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2016 / Imelda S. Plascencia, Alma Leyva, Mayra Yoana Jaimes Pena, Saba Waheed

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Undocumented youth counter the negative effects of being undocumented by making life choices that protect their emotional and physical health. A healthy lifestyle helps to counter the effects of family separation, detention, and limited employment opportunities. According to the 2013 Healthy California survey of 550 immigrant youth throughout California, 87 percent of study participants used personal wellness methods to maintain good health and avoid accessing health services. One survey participant stated, “Health is the number one priority, even more important than legal status. What can you do if you aren’t healthy?” More than three-fourths (76 percent) of immigrant youth surveyed reported exercise as their form of prevention, and almost half (45 percent) implemented healthy nutrition practices. For mental health care, 19 percent of immigrant youth sought out support groups and talking circles. Adequate mental health care is critical to heal the psychological violence spread by pol[ICE].