Advertisement

Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 60–67 | Cite as

What We Know and Don’t Know About Mental Health Problems Among Immigrants in Norway

  • Dawit Shawel Abebe
  • Lars Lien
  • Karin Harsløf Hjelde
Original Paper

Abstract

Mental health problems have been regarded as one of the main public health challenges of immigrants in several countries. Understanding and generating research-based knowledge on immigrant health problems is highly relevant for planning preventive interventions, as well as guiding social and policy actions. This review aims to map the available knowledge on immigrants’ mental health status and its associated risk factors in Norway. The reviewed literature about mental health problems among immigrant populations in Norway was found through databases, such as PUBMED, EMBASE, PsychINFO and MEDLINE. About 41 peer-reviewed original articles published since 1990s were included. In the majority of the studies, the immigrant populations, specifically adult immigrants from low and middle income countries, have been found with a higher degree of mental health problems compared to Norwegians and the general population. Increased risk for mental illness is primarily linked to a higher risk for acculturative stress, poor social support, deprived socioeconomic conditions, multiple negative life events, experiences of discrimination and traumatic pre-migration experiences. However, research in this field has been confronted by a number of gaps and methodological challenges. The available knowledge indicates a need for preventive interventions. Correspondingly, it strongly recommends a comprehensive research program that addresses gaps and methodological challenges.

Keywords

Mental health Health Immigrant Ethnic Minority Norway 

References

  1. 1.
    Prince M, Patel V, Saxena S, Maj M, Maselko J, Phillips MR, et al. No health without mental health. Lancet. 2007;370(9590):859–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bhugra D. Migration and mental health. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2004;109(4):243–58.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Goodman A, Patel V, Leon DA. Child mental health differences amongst ethnic groups in Britain: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2008;8:258.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Vega WA, Kolody B, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alderete E, Catalano R, Caraveo-Anduaga J. Lifetime prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders among urban and rural Mexican Americans in California. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55(9):771–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Nazroo JY. Rethinking the relationship between ethnicity and mental health: the British Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 1998;33(4):145–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fandrem H, Sam DL, Roland E. Depressive symptoms among native and immigrant adolescents in Norway: the role of gender and urbanization. Soc Indic Res. 2009;92(1):91–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lien L, Oppedal B, Haavet OR, Hauff E, Thoresen M, Bjertness E. Own and parental war experience as a risk factor for mental health problems among adolescents with an immigrant background: results from a cross sectional study in Oslo. Norway. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2006;2:30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lien L, Haavet OR, Thoresen M, Heyerdahl S, Bjertness E. Mental health problems, negative life events, perceived pressure and the frequency of acute infections among adolescents. Results from a cross-sectional, multicultural, population-based study. Acta Paediatr. 2007;96(2):301–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lien L. The association between mental health problems and inflammatory conditions across gender and immigrant status: a population-based cross-sectional study among 10th-grade students. Scand J Public Health. 2008;36(4):353–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Oppedal B, Roysamb E, Heyerdahl S. Ethnic group, acculturation, and psychiatric problems in young immigrants. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005;46(6):646–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sagatun A, Lien L, Sogaard AJ, Bjertness E, Heyerdahl S. Ethnic Norwegian and ethnic minority adolescents in Oslo, Norway. A longitudinal study comparing changes in mental health. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2008;43(2):87–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sund AM, Larsson B, Wichstrom L. Psychosocial correlates of depressive symptoms among 12–14-year-old Norwegian adolescents. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2003;44(4):588–97.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Virta E, Sam DL, Westin C. Adolescents with Turkish background in Norway and Sweden: a comparative study of their psychological adaptation. Scand J Psychol. 2004;45(1):15–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sam DL, Virta E. Intergenerational value discrepancies in immigrant and host-national families and their impact on psychological adaptation. J Adolesc. 2003;26(2):213–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Vaage AB, Tingvold L, Hauff E, Van TT, Wentzel-Larsen T, Clench-Aas J, et al. Better mental health in children of Vietnamese refugees compared with their Norwegian peers—a matter of cultural difference? Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2009;3(1):34.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lien L. Does length of stay in Norway influence the mental health status of adolescent immigrants? Results from the young part of the Oslo health study. Norsk tidsskrift for migrasjonsforskning. 2006;2:14–30.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Oppedal B, Roysamb E. Mental health, life stress and social support among young Norwegian adolescents with immigrant and host national background. Scand J Psychol. 2004;45(2):131–44.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sam DL, Vedder P, Liebkind K, Neto F, Virta E. Immigration, acculturation and the paradox of adaptation in Europe. Eur J Dev Psychol. 2008;5(2):138–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dalgard OS, Thapa SB, Hauff E, McCubbin M, Syed HR. Immigration, lack of control and psychological distress: findings from the Oslo Health Study. Scand J Psychol. 2006;47(6):551–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dalgard OS, Thapa SB. Immigration, social integration and mental health in Norway, with focus on gender differences. Clin Pract Epidemol Ment Health. 2007;3:24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Syed HR, Dalgard OS, Dalen I, Claussen B, Hussain A, Selmer R, et al. Psychosocial factors and distress: a comparison between ethnic Norwegians and ethnic Pakistanis in Oslo, Norway. BMC Public Health. 2006;6:182.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Thapa SB, Hauff E. Gender differences in factors associated with psychological distress among immigrants from low- and middle-income countries–findings from the Oslo Health Study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2005;40(1):78–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Thapa SB, Dalgard OS, Claussen B, Sandvik L, Hauff E. Psychological distress among immigrants from high- and low-income countries: findings from the Oslo Health Study. Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(6):459–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hauff E, Vaglum P. Vietnamese boat refugees: the influence of war and flight traumatization on mental health on arrival in the country of resettlement. A community cohort study of Vietnamese refugees in Norway. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1993;88(3):162–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hauff E, Vaglum P. Chronic posttraumatic stress disorder in Vietnamese refugees. A prospective community study of prevalence, course, psychopathology, and stressors. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1994;182(2):85–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hauff E, Vaglum P. Organised violence and the stress of exile. Predictors of mental health in a community cohort of Vietnamese refugees three years after resettlement. Br J Psychiatry. 1995;166(3):360–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Lie B. The psychological and social situation of repatriated and exiled refugees: a longitudinal, comparative study. Scand J Public Health. 2004;32(3):179–87.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Syed HR, Dalgard OS, Hussain A, Dalen I, Claussen B, Ahlberg NL. Inequalities in health: a comparative study between ethnic Norwegians and Pakistanis in Oslo. Norway. Int J Equity Health. 2006;5:7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Friis R, Yngve A, Persson V. Review of social epidemiologic research on migrants’ health: findings, methodological cautions, and theoretical perspectives. Scand J Soc Med. 1998;26(3):173–80.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Mollersen S, Holte A. Ethnicity as a variable in mental health research: a systematic review of articles published 1990–2004. Nord J Psychiatry. 2008;62(4):322–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Raj SB. Research on and with ethnic minority groups: past and future. Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies: foundations for better epidemology, public health, and health care. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2007. p. 243–83.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Stevens GW, Vollebergh WA. Mental health in migrant children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2008;49(3):276–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Leu J, Yen IH, Gansky SA, Walton E, Adler NE, Takeuchi DT. The association between subjective social status and mental health among Asian immigrants: investigating the influence of age at immigration. Soc Sci Med. 2008;66(5):1152–64.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawit Shawel Abebe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lars Lien
    • 3
  • Karin Harsløf Hjelde
    • 1
  1. 1.Norwegian Center for Minority Health ResearchNAKMIOsloNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Social ResearchNOVAOsloNorway
  3. 3.Department of Mental Health and AddictionUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations