The integration hypothesis and positive mental health outcomes for children and young asylum-seekers in Iceland

Paola Cardenas*, Bryndís Björk Ásgeirsdóttir, Giorgia Doná, David Lackland Sam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The current global situation affects millions of people forced to flee their homes in search of safety and protection. Child and youth forced migrants are often exposed to stressful life events before arrival in the country of resettlement and suffer more mental health problems than other migrants. For this population, finding the balance between maintaining their heritage culture while interacting with the larger new society is related to better mental health, a phenomenon referred to as the integration hypothesis. The present study sought to address gaps in the literature by examining the integration hypothesis among children and youth who sought asylum in Iceland. The study examined the acculturation strategy preferences of participants and their relationship to mental health outcomes. Participants were 75 individuals, ages 13–24, who arrived in Iceland between 2016 and 2020. Part of the data was collected via face-to-face interviews, while mental health measures were administered. Participants who preferred integration showed the best mental health outcomes, while those who chose marginalization had poorer mental health. Study results support the integration hypothesis in Iceland and underline the importance of helping immigrant children and youth recognize the value of maintaining their heritage culture while interacting with the larger society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101848
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

Other keywords

  • Acculturation
  • Asylum-seekers
  • Children
  • Integration hypothesis
  • Mental health
  • Youth

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