Factors promoting resilience among Mexican immigrant women in the United States: Applying a positive deviance approach

Keywords: immigrant women, mental health, assets perspective, positive deviance.


This research project used a positive deviance approach to identify Mexican immigrant women (MIW) who have experienced great stress and who have positive mental health indicators in order to determine the factors behind their resilience and coping skills. Signposts, strengths and resources contributing to positive mental health are identified and described. The resilience of participants in this study emerged as a very dynamic phenomenon. A series of internal assets helped these women find meaning, purpose and build resilience. Social networks, families, positive attitudes, and purposeful behaviors determine the strengths and well-being of this group. This may be the first exploration of the mental health assets of MIW. Although the purposive sample in the study limits the generalization of its results, the specificity of its population is a clear point of comparison and reference. The study has implications for the design of health promotion interventions with individuals of Mexican shared ancestry.  


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Maria Sajquim de Torres
Guatemalan-American. Research associate in the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Research and Evaluation at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences from UTEP. M. A. in Anthropology from Northen Arizona University (NAU). B.S. in Psychology from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. She is also the current director for the El Paso Branch of the Living Lab Center for Dialogue and Transformation Borderlands Mexico-USA. Research lines: immigration, culture and mental health, resilience, asset approaches to health, positive deviance and mixed methods research. Recent publication: Sajquim de Torres, M. (2016). Becoming Resilient: A Positive Deviance Inquiry Into the Resilience of Mexican Immigrant Women. United States of America: University of Texas at El Paso.
Mark Lusk
American. Professor of social work at the University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Lusk was a Fulbright Scholar at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. He has also been a visiting professor at the Universidad de Costa Rica and the University of Guyana. He has worked as a consultant on projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of State, Ford Foundation and the Interamerican Development Bank. Research lines: migration, resilience, trauma, and international social work. Recent publication: Chavez, S., Lusk, M. & Sanchez, S. (2015). Secuelas en la salud mental: el rol de la cultura y la resiliencia en migrantes y refugiados mexicanos en la región de El Paso del Norte. In. P. Barraza, L. Torres, S. Sanchez & Diaz, H. (Eds.) Tácticas y estrategias contra la violencia de género: Antología. Mexico: FONCA, EON Sociales.