Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 229–260 | Cite as

Exposure to Violence, Coping Strategies, and Diagnosed Mental Health Problems Among Adults in a Migrant-Sending Community in Central Mexico

  • Claire E. AltmanEmail author
  • Bridget K. Gorman
  • Sergio Chávez


Deadly violence has spread throughout Mexico, affecting the well-being of citizens. What is the impact of this violence on the daily lives of Mexican adults? Building upon the stress process model, we used a mixed-methods approach to examine relationships between multiple indicators of exposure to and fear of violence and four diagnosed mental health outcomes, as well as self-rated mental health, in a Mexican community using the Survey of Health and Mexican Migration (456 surveys; 49 interviews). The multivariate models provide evidence that perceptions of insecurity are associated with diagnosed depressive episode, agoraphobia, alcohol abuse, a total count of mental health conditions, and poor self-rated mental health. Past victimization is associated with anxiety. Stress and coping behaviors did not formally mediate these violence–mental illness associations. The qualitative results confirm that residents fear violence and cope by adjusting their personal behaviors. These results foreshadow the emergence of mental health conditions as a critical public health concern for Mexicans living under the threat of violence.


Mexico Violence Mental health Stress Insecurity 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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