Changes in the Psychological Well-Being of Immigrants: A Three-Year Longitudinal Study of Immigrant Adolescents Including the Pre-Migration Period
The Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Immigration and Mental Health: Stress, Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Behavior Among Immigrants and Refugees. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2010, 350 pages.
This article analyses well-being of adolescents immigrating from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) to Israel without their parents. Immigrant adolescents were compared with the matched sample of non-emigrating adolescents living in the FSU. Several aspects of well being were measured: the number of emotional and behavioral problems, loneliness, general self-esteem, body image, and social and school competence. Immigrant adolescents completed the questionnaires four times: about six months before emigration, and then in the first, second, and third years after their arrival to Israel. Adolescents living in the former Soviet Union completed questionnaires once. At the pre-migration stage, the immigrants’ well-being was higher than that of their non-emigrating peers. After the immigration, the immigrants’ psychological well-being declined, but remained higher than well-being of adolescents living in the FSU. At the post-migration stage, each dimension of well-being strongly correlated with the corresponding pre-migration measurement. The perceived discrimination had a strong negative effect and the social support received from peers and adults in Israel had a positive effect on the immigrants’ psychological well-being. Based on the obtained results, an integrative approach to the understanding of psychological processes of immigration is suggested.