The Mental Health of Unaccompanied Refugee Minors on Arrival in the Host Country

Scand J Psychol. 2014 Feb;55(1):33-7. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12094.


Despite increasing numbers of unaccompanied refugee minors (UM) in Europe and heightened concerns for this group, research on their mental health has seldom included the factor "time since arrival." As a result, our knowledge of the mental health statuses of UM at specific points in time and over periods in their resettlement trajectories in European host countries is limited. This study therefore examined the mental health of UM shortly after their arrival in Norway (n = 204) and Belgium (n = 103) through the use of self-report questionnaires (HSCL-37A, SLE, RATS, HTQ). High prevalence scores of anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were found. In addition, particular associations were found with the number of traumatic events the UM reported. The results indicate that all UM have high support needs on arrival in the host country. Longitudinal studies following up patterns of continuity and change in their mental health during their trajectories in the host country are necessary.

Keywords: Belgium; Norway; Unaccompanied refugee minors; mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Belgium
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Minors / psychology*
  • Norway
  • Prevalence
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Self Report
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires