Skip to main content

Common Mental Disorders at the Time of Deportation: A Survey at the Mexico–United States Border


Deportations from the Unites States (US) to Mexico increased substantially during the last decade. Considering deportation as a stressful event with potential consequences on mental health, we aimed to (1) estimate the prevalence of common mental disorders (CMD) among deported migrants; and (2) explore the association between migratory experience, social support and psychological variables, and CMD in this group. In repatriation points along the border, a probability sample of deportees responded to the Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ). The prevalence of CMD was 16.0 % (95 % CI 12.3, 20.6). There was a U-shaped association between time in the US and SRQ score. Times returned to Mexico, having a spouse in the US, number of persons in household, less social support, anxiety as a personality trait, and avoidant coping style were directly associated with SRQ score. Public health policies should address the need for mental health care among deported migrants.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  1. Consejo Nacional de Población (CONAPO). Mexicanos en Estados Unidos [Mexicans in th US]. Accessed Sept 14, 2013.

  2. Ramirez T, Castillo MA, editors. El estado de la migración. México ante los recientes desafíos de la migración internacional [The state of migration. Mexico in the face of the recent challenges of international migration]. Mexico: Consejo Nacional de Población; 2012.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Alarcón R, Becerra W. ¿Criminales o víctimas? La deportación de migrantes mexicanos de Estados Unidos a Tijuana, Baja California [Criminals or victims? The deportation of Mexican migrants from the United States to Tijuana, Baja California]. NORTEAMÉRICA. Año 2012;7(1):125–48.

  4. Brotherton DC, Barrios L. Displacement and stigma: the social-psychological crisis of the deportee. Crime, Media, Cult. 2009;5(1):29–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. SEGOB/CONAPO/INAMI/SRE/STPS/El Colef. Encuesta sobre Migración en la Frontera Norte de México, 2011 [Survey on migration in the Northern border of Mexico]. Mexico: Secretaría de Gobernación/Consejo Nacional de Población/Instituto Nacional de Migración/Unidad de Política Migratoria-Centro de Estudios Migratorios/Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores/Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social/El Colegio de la Frontera Norte; 2013.

  6. Jurado D, et al. World region of origin and common mental disorders among migrant women in Spain. J Immigr Minor Health. 2013. Epub 2013/10/15.

  7. Bhugra D. Migration and mental health. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2004;109(4):243–58.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Cervantes R, Castro F. Stress, coping and Mexican American mental health: a systematic review. Hisp J Behav Sci. 1985;7:1–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Munoz FA, et al. Deportation history among HIV-positive Latinos in two US–Mexico border communities. J Immigr Minor Health. 2013. Epub 2013/10/19.

  10. Ruben R, et al. What determines the embeddedness of forced-return migrants? rethinking the role of pre- and post-return assistance. Int Migr Re. 2009;43(4):908–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Davids T, Van Houte M. Remigration, development and mixed embeddedness: an agenda for qualitative research? Int J Multicult Soc. 2008;10(2):169–93.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Schuster L, Majidi N. What happens post-deportation? The experience of deported Afghans. Migr Stu. 2013. Epub 2013/05/08.

  13. Ojeda VD, et al. A qualitative view of drug use behaviors of Mexican male injection drug users deported from the United States. J Urban Health: Bull NY Acad Med. 2011;88(1):104–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Paris-Pombo D. Procesos de repatriación. Experiencias de las personas devueltas a México por las autoridades estadounidenses [Repatriation processes. Experiences of persons returned to Mexico by the United Stated authorities]. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, 2010.

  15. Brower KC, et al. Deportation along the US–Mexico border: its relation to drug use patterns and accessing care. J Immigr Minor Health. 2009;11:1–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Martin YC. The syndemics of removal: trauma and substance abuse. In: Brotherton DC, Stageman DL, Leyro SP, editors. Outside justice: immigration and the criminalizing impact of changing policy and practice. New York: Springer; 2013. p. 91–107.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  17. Letiecq BL, et al. Depression among Mexican men on the migration frontier: the role of family separation and other structural and situational stressors. J Immigr Minor Health. 2013. Epub 2013/10/22.

  18. Beusenberg M, Orley J. A user’s guide to the Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ). Geneva: Division of Mental Health, World Health Organisation; 1994.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Harpham T, et al. Measuring mental health in a cost-effective manner. Health Policy Plan. 2003;18(3):344–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Goncalves DM, et al. Avaliacao de desempenho do Self-Reporting Questionnaire como instrumento de rastreamento psiquiatrico: um estudo comparativo com o Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR. [Performance of the Self-Reporting Questionnaire as a psychiatric screening questionnaire: a comparative study with structured clinical interview for DSM-IV-TR]. Cad Saude Publica. 2008;24(2):380–90.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Honyashiki M, et al. Chronic diseases among older people and co-resident psychological morbidity: a 10/66 Dementia Research Group population-based survey. Int Psychogeriatr. 2011;23(9):1489–501.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Spielberger C. Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Salinas-Rodriguez A, et al. Analisis estadistico para datos de conteo: aplicaciones para el uso de los servicios de salud [Statistical analysis for count data: use of healthcare services applications]. Salud Publ Mex. 2009;51(5):397–406.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Breslau J, et al. Migration from Mexico to the United States and subsequent risk for depressive and anxiety disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatr. 2011;68(4):428–33.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Vega W, et al. Prevalence and correlates of dual diagnoses in US Latinos. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009;100:32–8.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Storr CL, et al. Adapting to acute crisis. In: Eaton WW, editor. Public mental health. New York: Oxford University Press; 2012. p. 303–47.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  27. Robjant K, Hassan R, Katona C. Mental health implications of detaining asylum seekers: systematic review. Br J Psychiatr. 2009;194(4):306–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Davies AA, et al. The dynamics of health and return migration. PLoS Med. 2011;8(6):e1001046. Epub 2011/07/09.

Download references


The authors acknowledge the support of all EMIF-N collaborators, and especially of Dr. Marie-Laure Coubés, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. The research project on which this article was based was funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), México, no. SALUD-2012-01-183085.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ietza Bojorquez.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bojorquez, I., Aguilera, R.M., Ramírez, J. et al. Common Mental Disorders at the Time of Deportation: A Survey at the Mexico–United States Border. J Immigrant Minority Health 17, 1732–1738 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Common mental disorders
  • Return migration
  • Deportation
  • Mental health