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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;49(3):276-94. Epub 2007 Dec 13.

Mental health in migrant children.

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Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Many factors have been identified to explain differences in mental health problems between migrant and native children: the process of migration, the ethnic minority position of migrants, their specific cultural background and the selection of migrants. In this paper, the international literature regarding mental health of migrant children is reviewed using strict selection criteria. An extensive search was carried out to locate journal articles on the subject of mental health in migrant youth published since the 1990s. Only 20 studies met all inclusion criteria. Besides the conclusion that the studies did not unequivocally find an increased risk of mental health problems in migrant children, it proved to be very difficult to draw any sound conclusions with respect to these children's risk of mental health problems, since the impact of migration on children's mental health varied with the informants used and the characteristics of the migrant group and of the host country. The lack of univocal definitions of key terms further complicated generalised conclusions in this research field. As such, this research field is in urgent need of more research using standardised research designs, methodology and definitions. A proposition for this research design is made.

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