Immigrants’ mental health is noticeably worse than natives’ in Iceland. Unemployment, financial insecurity, and loneliness are likely major factors, according to the authors of a labour market study that asked workers in Iceland to rate their mental health. The authors call for targeted measures to prevent immigrants’ poor mental health from becoming a long-term problem.
The study was conducted by labour market research institute Varða and Margrét Einarsdóttir was the lead author. The aim of the research was to examine the differences in self-rated mental health among workers in Iceland during COVID-19 in relation to their immigration status. “Unemployment, financial insecurity, and loneliness are all known risk factors for mental illness. It can be assumed that COVID-19 measures have hit immigrants harder than natives in relation to these factors, while at the same time affecting their mental health,” the study abstract states.
Over 22% of Locals and 34% of Immigrants Have Poor Mental Health
Respondents were asked to state their country of origin and were divided into two groups: those who were born in Iceland and those who had another country of origin. They were asked how many times in the last 14 days they had experienced nine different mental symptoms. “The results show a significant difference depending on immigration status and that mental health is noticeably worse among immigrants,” the study abstract states. More immigrants than natives stated they experienced almost all of the nine symptoms on an almost daily basis. When it came to overall mental health, 34.9% of immigrants measured as having poor mental health while 22.3% of native-born respondents did.
The abstract noted that immigrant’s financial situation was generally worse than that of native-born respondents and they face 3-4 times higher unemployment rates. The study’s authors concluded that authorities must take measures to address the issue. “Immigrants’ access to mental health services, their job security, and their earnings must be ensured.” The data was compiled from 8,461 responses.