The effect of acculturation and discrimination on mental health symptoms and risk behaviors among adolescent migrants in Israel

Ora Nakash, Maayan Nagar, Anat Shoshani, Hani Zubida, Robin A. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the role of acculturation, perceived discrimination, and self-esteem in predicting the mental health symptoms and risk behaviors among 1.5 and second generation non-Jewish adolescents born to migrant families compared with native-born Jewish Israeli adolescents in Israel. Participants included n = 65 1.5 migrant adolescents, n = 60 second generation migrant adolescents, and n = 146 age, gender, and socioeconomic matched sample of native-born Jewish Israelis. Participants completed measures of acculturation pattern, perceived discrimination, and self-esteem as well as measures of mental health symptoms and risk behaviors. Results show that migrant adolescents across generations reported worse mental health symptoms compared with native-born Jewish Israelis. However, only the 1.5 generation migrants reported higher engagement in risk behaviors compared with second generation migrants and native-born Jewish Israelis. Our findings further showed that acculturation plays an important role in predicting the mental health status of migrant youth, with those characterized with integrated acculturative pattern reporting lower mental health symptoms compared with assimilated acculturation pattern. Importantly, contextual factors, such as higher perception of discrimination in the receiving culture as well as individual factors such as lower self-esteem and female gender were strongly associated with worse mental health symptoms. The findings manifest the complex relationship between contextual factors and individual level variables in the acculturative process of migrants as well as the importance of examining the effect of migration generation on mental health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-238
Number of pages11
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescence
  • Mental health
  • Migrants
  • Risk behavior
  • Self-esteem

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