Somali immigrants to the U.K. and U.S. appear to integrate better and have fewer mental health problems if they are allowed to work and they receive practical support during the first few years of their time in the new country, according to a study led by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London and published in BioMed Central Public Health.

The study investigated the experiences of Somalis living in London and Minneapolis. After adjusting for various factors such as age, sex and marital status, the researchers found that Somalis in London were six times more likely to suffer from major depression and four times more likely to have a psychological disorder than those who lived in Minneapolis.

Most of the 189 survey respondents and 47 focus group participants had a shared history of displacement and similar immigration experiences. Like the Olympic Gold medal athlete, Mo Farah, they came to the U.K. or U.S. fleeing violence and human rights abuses in Somalia. However, 90 percent were unemployed in London, compared to 26 per cent in Minneapolis; 98 per cent had obtained refugee status or citizenship in Minneapolis compared to 83 per cent in London.

Read the study at Biomedical Central.

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