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Cultural Distance and Emotional Problems Among Immigrant and Refugee Youth in Canada: Findings from the New Canadian Child and Youth Study

2015

Cultural Distance and Emotional Problems Among Immigrant and Refugee Youth in Canada: Findings from the New Canadian Child and Youth Study

3 years ago 3 years ago Published by Leave your thoughts

This study examines the widely accepted but under-studied proposition that the greater the cultural distance (CD) between home country and country of resettlement the greater the mental health risk for immigrant and refugee youth. The study also explores pathways through which CD, a macro-social stressor, might exert its mental health effect through meso-environmental stressors including poverty and discrimination, as well as micro-environmental familial stressors. Acculturation strategies and personal competencies are also examined as sources of resilience.The study sample consists of 2,074 immigrant and refugee girls and boys, ages 11-13, belonging to 16 different ethnocultural communities, and living in six different Canadian cities. Study data consist of interviews with youth and with the parent deemed the most knowledgeable. Results reveal that CD did adversely affect youth mental health but the effect was relatively small. Family environment variables, particularly parental depression and harsh parenting, accounted for about one third of the effect of CD. Parents in ethnocultural communities that were culturally distant from Canada were more likely to employ harsh parenting practices than parents coming from culturally closer countries. Immigrant youth from culturally distant backgrounds were more likely to perceive discrimination than youth from culturally closer backgrounds.Social competence had an inverse relationship with emotional symptoms. An integration style of acculturation was more advantageous than an isolated, assimilated or marginalized style. The longer youth from culturally distant backgrounds lived in Canada, the worse their mental health tended to be: for youth from culturally closer backgrounds, the opposite was true. The discussion addresses implications for resettlement interventions and policy.

Beiser, M., Puente-Duran, S., & Hou, F. (2015). Cultural distance and emotional problems among immigrant and refugee youth in Canada: Findings from the New Canadian Child and Youth Study (NCCYS). International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 49, 33-45.

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