Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are high among Latino adolescents in the U.S., many of whom are immigrants. Immigration during adolescence creates risk factors for mental health problems. The purpose of this study was to explore the health-related perceptions of Mexican-origin immigrant adolescents to inform the design of culturally and developmentally appropriate mental health services. This focused ethnography was guided by Bronfenbrenner’s ecological framework and symbolic interactionism. Fourteen adolescents were recruited from two non-health-based community settings. Data from one-to-one semi-structured interviews and a visual narrative project were coded and analyzed inductively. Three thematic patterns were identified: “mentally healthy,” “mentally unhealthy,” and “health promotion.” Increased awareness of cultural influences and immigration on Latino adolescents’ mental health is needed. Mental health nurses are in a unique position to educate and to influence accessibility of services.
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