Migration, Stress and Mental Ill Health : Post-migration Factors and Experiences in the Swedish Context

Sammanfattning: This predominantly empirical dissertation deals with how socio-economic living conditions and immigrant-specific factors can be linked to immigrants’ mental ill health. It is also explored how cultural representations can affect stress and whether mental ill health is expressed differently among immigrants from Iraq and Iran than among individuals of Nordic origin. Moreover, a conceptual analysis is conducted, where a phenomenological conceptualisation of stress is outlined with a special focus on how this stress approach can be related to culture and migration.The empirical material consists of eleven in-depth interviews with Iraqi and Iranian immigrant women and two population-based surveys.The main findings of this thesis suggest as follows: 1) Mental ill health is more common among foreign-born than among native-born Swedes and can to a great extent be attributed to their poorer socio-economic living conditions. 2) Immigrants’ mental health is independently associated with different types of factors, such as traumatic episodes, socio-cultural adaptation level and socioeconomic living conditions. 3) The self-reporting mental health instruments, HSCL-25 and WHO (ten) Wellbeing Index, produce scores that are comparable between Scandinavians and immigrants of Middle Eastern descent. 4) Nonuniversal representations that can be found in Iraq and Iran can amplify, or even be necessary ingredients in certain types of stressful experiences among immigrant women from these countries. 5) The distinctions between universal and non-universal stress, and between immigrant/minority and non-immigrant/nonminority stress appear to be crucial for an adequate comprehension of immigrants’ stressful experiences.