The mental health of Black Caribbean immigrants: results from the National Survey of American Life

Am J Public Health. 2007 Jan;97(1):52-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.088211. Epub 2006 Nov 30.


Objectives: We examined the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Black Caribbean immigrant ("Caribbean Black") and African American populations and the correlates of psychiatric disorders among the Caribbean Black population.

Methods: We conducted descriptive and age-adjusted analyses of the data from the National Survey of American Life--an in-person household mental health survey of noninstitutionalized US Blacks. We assessed psychiatric disorders as defined by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

Results: Compared with African American men, Caribbean Black men had higher risks for 12-month rates of psychiatric disorders. Caribbean Black women had lower odds for 12-month and lifetime psychiatric disorders compared with African American women. Risks varied by ethnicity, immigration history, and generation status within the Caribbean sample. First-generation Caribbean Blacks had lower rates of psychiatric disorders compared with second- or third-generation Caribbean Blacks, and, compared with first-generation Caribbean Blacks, third-generation Caribbean Blacks had markedly elevated rates of psychiatric disorders.

Conclusions: Mental health risks were associated with ethnic diversity within the US Black population. Increased exposure to minority status in the United States was associated with higher risks for psychiatric disorders among Black Caribbean immigrants, which possibly reflects increased societal stress and downward social mobility associated with being Black in America.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Caribbean Region / ethnology
  • Central America / ethnology
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Social Mobility
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology