Knowledge is needed: Ethnic minorities and mental health.

There has long been a perception that health issues among ethnic minorities are more problematic. People with immigrant background often are lower range income groups, may have cultural barriers in speaking freely about health issues and may be more prone to certain diseases. Also regarding mental health it has been pointed out an increased vulnerability due to such factors.

The recent report «Mental health in Norway 2018» from the Public Health institue (Folkehelseinstituttet) is a continuation of a national evaluation that began in 2009. This updated study concludes that people of immigrant background in Norway are indeed more prone to mental sickness. On the whole immigrants who report such problems is double the number found among ethnic norwegians, 12 % to 6 %.

A major finding is that mental sickness is more frequent among immigrants from low and middle income countries. The higher frquency is present for all age groups of these immigrants. Country of origin seems a major determinant, so that people from Somalia and Eritrea report more mental health problems than those from Iran and Pakistan. Concerning regfugees the number iwho report mental health problems is very high, around 40 %.

Another finding is that the strongly affected groups seek help to a lesser degree from public health services than do ethnic Norwegians. However, there is a lot of variation within immigrant groups. The report states the need for further research into possible reasons for this variation.

There is a clear need to increase the level of knowledge among mental health problems among immigrants. As we have written about in Ragtime earlier, other studies have also recently confirmed the major findings. The present report thereby serves to solidify these observations.

- Feven Melake