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:
– 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.
– Difficulty with the English language is seen as a source of immediate stressand frustration for immigrants.
– 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