In comparison with their native peers, children and adolescents with a Turkish migration background showed notable differences in psychological disorders, according to study results published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health.

Researchers prospectively studied children and adolescents aged 7 to 18 years from various outpatient settings in Vienna, Austria. The team evaluated whether psychological disorders differed between patients and healthy controls with and without a migration background. Clinical assessments were conducted using 6 psychological questionnaires: the Youth Self Report for minors aged 11 to 18 years, Child Behavior Checklist for minors aged 4 to 18 years, Self-Esteem Scale, the Children’s Depression Inventory (DIJK), and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) for ages 7 to 14 and 15 to 18 years.

Of the total sample (n=302), 102 patients were healthy controls and 200 had mental health conditions; 52 were native Austrian and 50 had a Turkish migration background.

After analysis, the researchers found that externalizing problems were more common in native children (42.1%) compared with children with a Turkish migration background (28%).

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It was also noted that depression, anxiety, and internalizing symptoms were higher in the group of children and adolescents with a migration background. The researchers suggest that these children and adolescents may have higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms due to migration-induced stress which affected mental health.

One key study limitation was its single-center design. As a result, the findings may not be generalizable to all patient populations.

“Professionals working in the health-care system should be trained to gain transcultural competence for treating migrants adequately,” the researchers wrote. They theorized that migrants may use mental health services less frequently, resulting in fewer diagnoses and less care.

Reference

Gutmann MT, Aysel M, Özlü-Erkilic Z, Popow C, Akkaya-Kalayci T. Mental health problems of children and adolescents, with and without migration background, living in Vienna, Austria [published online September 10, 2019]. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. doi:10.1186/s13034-019-0295-y