Sunday, November 22, 2009

Unnatural Causes: Arriving Healthy

During the past week, students in my online course, SOC 320 Gender, Race & Class, discussed the impact of inequality on physical and psychological health. To supplement the readings in the text, we viewed video clips from an excellent PBS documentary, Unnatural Causes.

One segment called "Becoming American", pointed out that "New immigrants arriving in the United States tend to be healthier than the average American, but as they remain in the country, their health declines." (Unnatural Causes).
Another interesting finding is the "Latino Paradox", "the fact that new Latino immigrants, despite having on average lower incomes and highly stressful lives, suffer lower rates of chronic and mental illness than the average native-born American." (Unnatural Causes) NOTE: See my posting on Nov. 23rd on the book Connections. Could it be that the "social connectedness" of Latino immigrant families gives them some "immunity" from mental illness?
According to Alameda County, California Public Health Director, Tony Iton, MD, "Immigrants bring to this country aspects of culture, of tradition, of tight family social networks and community social networks that essentially form a shield around them and allow them to withstand the deleterious, negative impacts of American culture" (Unnatural Causes).

Video at:

To view the entire episode "Becoming American" (29 minutes), click HERE.

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