Between 1980 and 1990 nearly 9 million foreign-born individuals migrated to the United States. In 1993, the Immigration and Naturalization Service recorded the entry of over 900,000 immigrants and refugees. This figure is believed to be higher given the estimated 1.5 to 2.5 million people who enter this country illegally each year. Currently, ethnic minority groups make up one-fourth of the United States population. It is estimated that by the year 2000, one-third of the U.S. population will be comprised of ethnic minorities. As the population of the United States becomes increasingly diverse, considerable attention is being directed to a critical examination of the quality of services received by ethnic minority groups in areas such as education, employment, and health.

With the advent of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and accompanying affirmative action policies and programs, ethnic minority groups began to demand structural changes in American society to accommodate the growth in their numbers. As researchers began to explore the impact of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic conditions on minority populations, findings started to reveal that exposure to environmental stressors such as poverty, discrimination, segregation, and immigration negatively influence the lives of ethnic minorities. It became evident that immigrants and other minority populations were at risk of developing physical as well as psychological illnesses. As we approach the 21st century, how prepared are mental health providers to service an ever-increasing, culturally-diverse minority population?


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