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Poles Apart?: Acculturation, Mental Health, and Experiences of Polish People Living in Ireland

Poles Apart?: Acculturation, Mental Health, and Experiences of Polish People Living in Ireland

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Mental health and acculturation of Polish migrants in Ireland were investigated. A focus group (n=4), semi-structured interviews with Ireland-based Polish people regarding personal life (n=3), dealing with other Polish people in a professional capacity (n=3; priest, embassy worker, psychologist), and questionnaires (n=354) were conducted. Main themes were cultural-adjustment, language, social-support, self-esteem, expectations-v-reality, discrimination/racism, and autonomy. Social policy recommendations are proposed.
Mental health and acculturation of Polish migrants in Ireland were investigated. A focus group (n=4), semi-structured interviews with Ireland-based Polish people regarding personal life (n=3), dealing with other Polish people in a professional capacity (n=3; priest, embassy worker, psychologist), and questionnaires (n=354) were conducted. Main themes were cultural-adjustment, language, social-support, self-esteem, expectations-v-reality, discrimination/racism, and autonomy. Social policy recommendations are proposed.

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
Poles Apart?
Acculturation, Mental Health, andExperiences of Polish People Livingin Ireland
Rebeca Alonso, Jennie Carr, KarenMcAllister, Michelle McMahon, SéamusMcManus, Caoimhe Nic a’ Bháird, EibhlínNí Ógáin, Nicola O’ Connell & Cliódhna O’Connor
 
 Junior Sophister Group Project School of Psychology Trinity College Dublin April 2008
2
 
Executive Summary
The current study aims to investigate issues of mental health and acculturation in thesteadily increasing Polish migrant population living in Ireland. The study adoptedBerry’s (2001) framework of acculturation, which outlines 4 possible acculturationstrategies of immigrants: Integration, Assimilation, Separation and Marginalisation. Themixed-methodological approach comprised a focus group (n=4), semi-structured Personalinterviews (n=3), interviews with Polish Professionals in Ireland (n=3) and a structuredquestionnaire (n=354).Thematic analysis of the focus group and interviews revealed 7 main themes concerning positive or negative adjustment to life in Ireland: Acculturation, Language, Socialsupport, Self-esteem, Expectations -v- Reality, Racism/Discrimination, and Autonomy.The questionnaire investigated several key variables hypothesised to influenceacculturation and mental health of Polish migrants: Length of time spent/expected to stayin Ireland, experience of racism and discrimination, acculturative style, languagecompetency, religion, self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1965), social support (ISEL, Cohen &Hoberman, 1983) educational background, perceived occupational qualification andsatisfaction, and general well-being (GHQ-12, Goldberg & Williams, 1988).Some of the main findings of the study are outlined below, organised by theme:
 Acculturation
– 66% of respondents were categorised as “Integrated”, i.e. seeking tomaintain Polish culture and also to adopt Irish culture. Overall, it was found that those inthe Integrated group fared better on measures of well-being than those in the Separatedgroup.
 Language
– Difficulty with the English language is seen as a source of immediate stressand frustration for immigrants.
Social support 
– Forms of organised support (such as the Church) as well as informalsupport (such as the pub and a network of friends) are viewed as centrally important tothe well-being of migrants. The existence of a Polish sub-culture was also identified anddiscussed.3

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