One More Wall to Cross: The Role of Psychologists in Addressing Integrated Health Among Undocumented Latinx Immigrants in Inpatient Medical Settings

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American Psychological Association

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Over the past decade, there has been increased attention to the benefits of an integrated healthcare care model in which psychologists play a vital role collaborating with other health providers to deliver services in inpatient medical settings, such as emergency departments and acute care medical units. Psychologists working in inpatient medical settings can facilitate access to mental health services and referrals, reduce mental health stigma, improve health outcomes associated with insight into psychosocial factors that affect health and illness, improve communication between patients and providers, and increase sensitivity in addressing the health needs of diverse patients. Psychological services in inpatient medical units can be particularly valuable for marginalized populations, such as undocumented Latinx immigrants, who may not otherwise have access to services that can address the compounded effect that psychosocial stressors may have on their physical health. We illustrate the critical role that psychologists can play in inpatient medical settings to address the complex health needs of Latinx immigrants. In this case study, an undocumented young woman presented to an emergency department with acute liver failure. We focus on psychologists’ specific contributions as part of the integrated medical team and how it may have impacted treatment effectiveness. We also provide practical assessment and treatment recommendations, along with proposing advocacy efforts to facilitate access to culture and context sensitive treatments for undocumented immigrants with complex health issues