Study Document

Depression Among Older Immigrant African Women in Metro West Massachusetts Capstone Project

Pages:12 (3684 words)




Document Type:Capstone Project


Prevalence of Depression in Massachusetts

Prospectus: Depression Among Older Immigrant African Women in Metro West Massachusetts


In West Massachusetts United States, the most common health disorders are anxiety and depression. These health disorders are prevalent in elderly immigrant women aged between 50 and 79 years (Agbemenu, 2016). Despite a variety of efficacious interventions for depression and anxiety, elderly immigrant women experience mental health care disparities in their access to mental health services and the quality of treatment they receive (Sánchez et al., 2014). Researchers have determined that African American heterogeneity influences access to depression and anxiety treatment. In addition, African Americans are becoming an increasingly visible minority within the United States, especially in West Massachusetts. The intention in this current study is to understand the causes and prevalence of depression among older immigrant African American women in Metro West Massachusetts as well as how the older immigrants cope with the depression. A total of 20 self-identified social workers were interviewed about their patients’ mental health problem symptoms and treatment experience, what they thought was their cause of their anxiety, stressors facing their life in West Massachusetts, their access to mental health services, and how they coped with depression. Results were reflective of considerable variability across the two groups, with African American elderly immigrant women endorsing higher rates of depression and anxiety, as well as higher rates of treatment seeking, than White women. Gender, age, marital status, and origin played a major role in the endorsement of anxiety and depression for the immigrants. Finally, although the two groups differed in the extent to which they experienced stigma about mental health issues, stigma did not predict symptom endorsement or treatment-seeking behavior for any of the two groups.

Problem Statement

The intent in this study is to explore the views of social workers in relation to depression among older immigrant African women currently living in west Massachusetts. Older immigrant African women refers to women who are over 55 years of age and they relocated from any African country after winning a green card or getting permanent residency in the United States. Depression among elderly immigrant women stands out as an important phenomenon for study in the context of social work taking into consideration the extent to which the condition affects vulnerable populations. Derr (2017), pointed out immigrants typically face stressors relating to migration experience that may cause or intensify mental health problems. Moreover, Derr (2017) also discussed that immigrants tend to access mental health services at a lower rate as compared to non-immigrants. Subsequently, this situation leaves immigrants at risk of untreated health conditions leading to increased disease burden (Lynch, Berg, Manna, and Schade (2016). As such, this negative health predisposition creates greater need for mental health services among immigrants who seem more susceptible to develop depression. This situation makes it imperative to establish the views of social workers addressing the mental health needs, especially depression, among older immigrant African women in Metro West Massachusetts. In turn, insights gained should play a critical role in the development of comprehensive mental health programs aimed at improving the immigrants’ health outcomes.

As noted, migration can be challenging, and many immigrant women experience challenges that affect their mental health. For example, the changes in practices, values, social factors and cultural identification are considered as factors that contribute to the potential risk of developing mental health issues (Alegría, Álvarez, & DiMarzio, 2017). Similarly, Foo et al. (2018) asserted that migration into a new country leads to drastic changes in essential aspects of normal day life. Here, the process of assimilating to new environments and cultures causes considerable levels of acculturative stress, which researchers have linked to the occurrence of psychiatric disorders (Foo et al., 2018). Therefore, examining stressors surrounding the migrant experiences from the social work perspective should offer excellent insight into the issues faced by this vulnerable population, especially for women aged 50 years and above.

Based on the highlighted problem, it is imperative to determine the views of social workers from West Massachusetts who work with older immigrant African women in Metro West Massachusetts affected by depression (Priebe et al., 2011). Such an undertaking may reveal service modifications such as giving patients with language barriers more time needed to enhance access to quality mental health services (Priebe et al., 2011). As suggested by researchers, immigration can create worry, which may increase the risks of experiencing depression, and this can be exacerbated by cultural factors, such as language barriers that may cause difficulty in diagnosing and treating this disorder among immigrant populations (Landa, Skritskaya, Nicasio, Humensky, & Lewis-Fernández, 2015). Failure to determine appropriately the views of social workers on depression within a certain community translates to neglecting social health and welfare (Baldwin-Clark, Ofahengaue Vakalahi, & Anderson, 2016). In response, the intent of this study is to obtain the perspective of social workers regarding depression within the selected migrant population as well as insights into the ways in which professionals in the healthcare sector can help meet emerging needs.

Purpose of the Study

In this study, the views of social workers regarding depression in older immigrant African women in Metro West Massachusetts will be obtained. Through analyzing these perspectives, insights may be provided into ways that social workers sector can assist to meet the emerging needs of the population. Expected in the results of this study will be any service modification that is needed to meet the needs of the immigrant African women located in Metro West Massachusetts (Takeuchi, 2016). These findings may enhance access to quality mental health services and ensure that women can understand the implication of not seeking mental health services. Having examined the stressors that are faced by the migrant women, insights will be gained into the issues that the women face within the population and solutions can be developed that will be directly targeted to the population (Agbemenu, 2016). Social workers will also benefit in that they will use the findings of the study to determine methods that they can use to reach out to the population under study.

Research Questions

Focused upon in this study will be the following research questions:

1. From the social work perspective, what are the stressors facing older immigrant African women in Metro West Massachusetts?

2. From the social work perspective, what are the health service access disparities faced by older immigrant African women in Metro West Massachusetts?

3. What role do social workers play in bridging mental health service access disparities facing older immigrant African women in Metro West Massachusetts?

4. What service modifications can social workers introduce in practice to enhance mental health service delivery for older immigrant African women in Metro West Massachusetts?

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will contribute new knowledge to address the gap in research regarding depression in older immigrant African women living in Metro West Massachusetts. Findings will offer insights into ways that social workers can meet the emerging needs of this population. The stressors that older immigrant African women report will be uncovered in the study. The results of this study may be…

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…data types of the study will be quantitative as the researchers will rely on face-to-face interviews with the social workers. To conduct the research, samples will be selected from social workers who are currently serving the Ashland community in metro west MA. We will post flyers around the neighborhood inviting social workers to participate in our study. Another method we will use to recruit study participants is handing out flyers to social workers. In this way, a better chance occurs to gain a good understanding of the stressors, and health access disparities faced by older immigrant African women in metro west Massachusetts. The social workers will also be requested to answer certain questions about the role they play in bridging mental health service access disparities facing the selected population as well as service modifications that can help improve health delivery. The data collection process will rely on face-to-face interviews, where 10 questions will be developed to probe for relevant information from 20 social workers working on elderly immigrants in West Massachusetts. The face-to-face interview will last for a maximum of one hour. To ensure that the interviewees will be comfortable during the interview process, we propose to conduct the interviews during their lunch break at a coffee shop close to their office.

Limitations, Challenges, and/or Barriers

Recruiting of the social workers will be a huge challenge for this research mainly due to the fact that most of them do not know the researcher. Getting them to trust us will be an uphill task as the nature of their work is sensitive and they would not be comfortable revealing patient information to a stranger. Another challenge is time limitation, as the social workers might be unavailable for the interviews. Considering that we plan to conduct the interview at a cafe during lunch hour, only one interview can be scheduled each day. Perhaps, some social workers might be willing to take the interviews in their offices which would save time as the interviews could be completed more quickly. Distractions might occur if the interviews were conducted in a cafe. The social worker might struggle to focus on the question as they are also having their lunch. Natural cafe distractions might come to play, and questions might have to be repeated if the cafe is noisy. Another challenge that might occur is that some social workers might have an emergency and, as a result, might have to cancel their interview. This situation would mean the interview would have to be rescheduled, with the possibility that the interview might not occur at all, given time restraints.


The results of this study can be used by other social workers who are dealing with a similar population. Based on the results of this study, other social workers will benefit in that they will find out the strategies that can be employed to reach out to such a population and the strategies that they should avoid. Social work will benefit the most because results may be used to provide suggestions that other social workers can use when dealing with immigrant African women. Considering that the women will have different cultures based on their country of origin, it will be vital that social workers first understand the culture before they can begin offering treatment or counseling to the individual.

Intended in this investigation is to reduce the case of mental health problems that are faced by immigrant African women located in Metro West Massachusetts. According to Saeidimehr, Geravandi, Izadmehr, and Mohammadi (2016), reducing the causes of depression is beneficial to society due to…

Sample Source(s) Used


Agbemenu, K. (2016). Acculturation and Health Behaviors of African Immigrants Living in the United States: An Integrative Review. ABNF Journal, 27(3).

Alegría, M., Álvarez, K., & DiMarzio, K. (2017). Immigration and mental health. Current epidemiology reports, 4(2), 145-155.

Baldwin-Clark, T., Ofahengaue Vakalahi, H. F., & Anderson, B. (2016). What about African American older women and depressive symptoms? Educational Gerontology, 42(5), 310-320.

Cassel, J. (1995). The contribution of the social environment to host resistance: the fourth wade Hampton frost lecture. American journal of epidemiology, 141(9), 798-814.

Cobb, S. (1976). Social support as a moderator of life stress. Psychosomatic medicine.

Delara, M. (2016). Social determinants of immigrant women’s mental health. Advances in Public Health, 2016.

Dow, H. D. (2011). An overview of stressors faced by immigrants and refugees: A guide for mental health practitioners. Home Health Care Management & Practice, 23(3), 210-217.

Emadpoor, L., Lavasani, M. G., & Shahcheraghi, S. M. (2016). Relationship between perceived social support and psychological well-being among students based on mediating role of academic motivation. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 14(3), 284-290.

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