Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Caroline Lim


Background: Much progress has been made in understanding the impacts of identifying as an undocumented student in higher education, but knowledge of the scarcity of resources impacting undocumented students remains limited. Objective: This descriptive study examined the relationship between accessibility to social support and the psychological well-being of undocumented students in higher education. Methods: Quantitative data was gathered cross-sectionally from participants recruited using nonprobability sampling methods. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and Social Support Survey Scale were used to gather data on participants' psychological distress and social support. A descriptive analysis was performed to yield summary statistics of participants’ demographics, psychological well-being, and social support. Results: All participants identified as Hispanic or Latino, most are attending a 4-year college, and most participants’ parents have less than a college education. The data suggests that 100% of participants reported struggles with mental health. Additionally, most reported less than favorable levels of social support throughout their academic career in higher education.

Conclusion: The mental health of undocumented students may be more complex than anticipated, where mental well-being may be impacted by factors beyond the levels and types of social support received. Future research should consider exploring other factors that might impact the mental wellness of undocumented students. Furthermore, Colleges serving undocumented students should ensure that this vulnerable group receives adequate educational support in efforts to boost their mental health.