Mental health, substance misuse and labour market participation in teenage refugees in Sweden – A longitudinal perspective

Sammanfattning: Aim: To fill the knowledge gap about the importance of contextual factors after resettlement on mental health, substance misuse and labour market participation among young refugees who immigrate to Sweden as teenagers. Methods: Register studies in national registers of national cohorts of young refugees, unaccompanied and accompanied, who settled in Sweden as teenagers. Studies 1-4 used Cox regression models to study the risks of psychiatric care consumption and substance misuse, while Study 5 used multinomial regression to study position on the labour. These findings were compared with peers from the same birth cohorts in the general Swedish population and non-European intercountry adoptees (Studies 2 and 5). Results: The overall results suggest that young accompanied and unaccompanied refugees were more likely to be admitted to psychiatric inpatient and compulsory hospital care, but not outpatient care, with refugees born in the Horn of Africa and Iran having the highest risk (Study 1). Young accompanied and unaccompanied refugees also had higher risk of hospitalization and criminal conviction associated with substance misuse (Study 3). Longer duration of residence in Sweden was associated with increased risks of outpatient care (Study 1) and hospitalization related to substance misuse (studies 3 and 4). These increase risks of young refugees were associated with their socioeconomic living conditions (Studies 3 and 4), but risk factors associated with the country of origin of the refugee population and the intercountry adoptees were more important determinants of schizophrenia than socioeconomic conditions in Sweden (Study 2). Young accompanied and unaccompanied refugees and intercountry adoptees had a lower likelihood of being in full employment than native Swedes with comparable levels of education. Secondary education, however, increased employment chances and reduced the risk of being neither employed nor in education or training (Study 5). Conclusion: Evidence suggests that several groups of young refugees are at higher risk of mental health problems and substance misuse. They also face employment disadvantages and barriers to psychiatric care in the early stages of developing a psychiatric disorder.

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