Immigrants Psychopathology: Emerging Phenomena and Adaptation of Mental Health Care Setting by Native Language

Isabella Giammusso1, Filippo Casadei2, Nicolay Catania2, *, Elena Foddai2, Maria Chiara Monti2, Giorgia Savoja2, Crispino Tosto3
1 Department of Psychology, Educational Science and Human Movement, University of Palermo, Italy
2 Associazione PLP, Psicologi Liberi Professionisti, Via Pasteur, 65, 00144, Rome, Italy
3 Istituto per le Tecnologie Didattiche, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy


Mental health of immigrants is an important social and clinical issue. Immigrants may report higher rates of mental disorders and lower levels of use of mental health service with respect to natives. The aim of the present work is to review recent findings of the psychopathology of immigrants and analyze how to adapt the mental care settings through the use of mother tongues. We searched the literature to individuate and review the most recent scientific articles focused on the psychopathology of immigrants realized in Europe. Moreover, we summarized the guidelines about immigrants mental health care and we focused on the barriers caused by language. We individuated 15 papers reporting data about mental disorders among immigrants and the related risk and protective factors. The articles reported information about psychosis, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, somatization and suicide rates. Risk and protective factors are individuated mainly among social factors (e.g. ethnic density effect, hosting countries' policies). Furthermore, immigrants encounter language barriers in the use of mental care services. The realization of cross-cultural training and the development of a working alliance between clinicians and interpreters resulted to be effective solutions even if these interventions are not frequently implemented. The extent of migratory flows and the related difficulties experienced by immigrants require attention and well-informed interventions. The high rates of incidence of mental disorder and the strict number of services who implement interventions taking into accounts fundamental aspect as language show that there is still a lot to do.

Keywords: Immigrants, Mental disorder, Mental health service, Native Language, Psychopathology, Risk factors.

Abstract Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2018
Volume: 14
Publisher Item Identifier: EA-CPEMH-2018-25

Article History:

Received Date: 18/4/2018
Revision Received Date: 10/10/2018
Acceptance Date: 17/10/2018
Electronic publication date: 30/10/2018
Collection year: 2018

© 2018 Giammusso et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Correspondence: Address correspondence to this author at the Associazione PLP, Psicologi Liberi Professionisti, Via Pasteur, 65, 00144, Rome, Italy; Tel: +39 3204684489; E-mail: