Top News 2020

English summaries

English Summaries (03/2022)

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Jenni Alisaari & Elina Kilpi-Jakonen

Sense of belonging and truancy among children of immigrants

In this article, we investigate how immigrant generation, language spoken at home and country of origin are associated with sense of belonging to school and truancy, as well as how the sense of belonging explains truancy. We analysed Finnish PISA data from 2012, 2015 and 2018 (N=16,235) using regression analysis. Our results indicated that children of immigrants who spoke a language other than that of instruction at home had on average a weaker sense of belonging to school than (majority) students who spoke Finnish or Swedish. First generation immigrants, second generation students with other languages than that of instruction and 2.5 generation students who only spoke the language of instruction at home had a greater likelihood of truancy than other students. The older the students were when they moved to Finland, the weaker their sense of belonging on average and the greater their likelihood of extensive truancy. Sense of belonging was associated with truancy but did not explain the differences between groups. This study helps to identify what are the immigration and language groups that are particularly vulnerable in relation to their sense of belonging and what role this plays in truancy. By improving belonging and reducing truancy we can improve pupils’ wellbeing and learning results.

Keywords: children of immigrants, sense of belonging to school, truancy, language spoken at home


Katriina Autio, Nina Liukkonen, Reeta Kankaanpää, Mervi Vänskä, Sanni Aalto, Raija-Leena Punamäki & Kirsi Peltonen

Belonging and mental health among adolescents with an immigrant background and adolescents born in Finland

The first aim of this study was to find out whether there are differences in the perceived sense of belonging at school between Finnish-born, labour migrants and refugee youth. The second research question was to investigate how school cohesion is related to internalising and externalising symptoms, prosociality and resilience. Third, the study examined whether the relationship differs between young people born in Finland and those who have moved to Finland for different reasons. The research material was collected as part of the Psychosocial Support for Immigrant Youth in School intervention research project. The study used cross-sectional data based on questionnaire responses from young people at the start of the project in autumn 2019 (n=1,981). The study found that there was no difference in the experience of belonging between the groups. School belonging was associated with lower levels of internalising and externalising symptoms and higher levels of prosociality and resilience. Immigrant background did not modify the associations, although for youth with refugee background the result was close to statistically significant for resilience. In conclusion, the sense of belonging experienced at school supports the mental health of all young people, so it is important to strengthen it.

Keywords: school belonging, internalising symptoms, externalising symptoms, prosociality, resilience, immigrants, adolescents


Mia Huolman

The role, evaluation, and treatment of avoidance in PTSD in children: A case study

This case study describes and evaluates the role of traumatic avoidance in pediatric PTSD, the manifestation of avoidance during treatment, and the changes in avoidance symptoms over treatment. The treatment and effectiveness of treatment of PTSD in a 7-year-old refugee are presented in detail. The treatment approach is a combination of trauma-focused cognitive behavioural and narrative exposure therapy. The effectiveness of treatment and possible outcome factors are discussed in the light of previous research. The focus is on describing avoidance and on the role of avoidance in the development of PTSD and the prolongation of the symptoms. Avoidance is generally seen to play a key role in the development of PTSD, and different aspects of avoidance (cognitive, emotional, behavioural) have different effects on the symptoms depending on, e.g., time since the traumatic event. However, the views on the role of avoidance in pediatric PTSD are conflicting, and little research has been done in children. This case study provides additional information on the role of avoidance and effectiveness of treatment in pediatric PTSD and is the first to describe the combination treatment of trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy and narrative exposure therapy.

Keywords: post-traumatic stress disorder, avoidance, child, trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy, narrative exposure therapy, guilt


Saija-Liisa Kankaanpää, Päivi Korkeala, Pia Solin & Venla Lehti

A case study of using the ITQ questionnaire with refugee-origin patients

Refugees are often exposed to traumatic events and suffer from trauma-related symptoms such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the assessment of trauma-related symptoms is not straightforward, and not all psychiatric assessment methods or questionnaires are valid when used with refugees. Some severely traumatized refugees also suffer from complex PTSD (CPTSD) that can remain unrecognized. The International Trauma Questionnaire (ITQ) and its several language versions could be useful in detecting both PTSD and CPTSD, but more information is needed on the use of ITQ with refugees. We carried out a case study on the usability of the Arabic and Dari language versions of the ITQ. Three patients with a refugee background who spoke Arabic or Dari as their native language participated in cognitive interviews on the ITQ. The results showed that the participants had similar difficulties with the ITQ. Focusing on the assessment of trauma-related symptoms was challenging. There were terms and questions the participants did not understand, and self-reported answers were not reliable. The use of the ITQ required active participation of the interviewers and interpreters. However, the ITQ can be a useful method when used qualitatively. This study highlights factors mental health professionals need to consider when assessing their refugee-origin patients’ trauma-related symptoms. The results are also useful when planning quantitative studies on the validity of the ITQ.

Keywords: ITQ, PTSD, CPTSD, refugees, cross-cultural assessment


Elina Turjanmaa

Intergenerational transmission of forced migration and persecution: Mental health among second and third generation Ingrian Finns

Witnessing and experiencing war and leaving one’s home are fundamental, often traumatic events that may have consequences over generations. In this study, the mental health of Ingrian Finns whose family pasts include forced migration and persecution is examined. The study also explores how parents’ and grandparents’ traumatic war-related experiences and descendants’ perceptions of their parents’ avoidance to talk about their Ingrian background are related to mental health among Ingrian second and third generation. Altogether 650 grandchildren of Ingrian refugees (third generation, mean age 66) and children (second generation, mean age 65) and grandchildren (third generation, mean age 38) of displaced Ingrians of WWII participated in the study. Their levels of mental health (i.e., loneliness, mental strain, and quality of life) were compared with the general population in Finland. Parents’ or grandparents’ traumatic war-related experiences were, for example, experiences of violence, persecution, and loss of a close one. There were no differences in the levels of loneliness or mental strain between Ingrians and the general population while the quality of life was reported slightly higher among Ingrians compared to the general population. Parents’ and grandparents’ traumatic war-related experiences were related to severe mental strain in the second generation but not in the two groups of third generations. Parents’ avoidance of talk about their Ingrian background was related to weaker sense of coherence in all three generational groups and to poorer quality of life and higher mental strain among third generation Ingrian refugees. The study suggests that family’s past forced displacement and how it is remembered is associated with the present-day mental health of people with Ingrian background. However, the conclusions based on data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic must be interpreted with caution.

Keywords: forced displacement, intergenerational transmission, mental health, family reminiscence, Ingrian Finns