Southeast Asian refugee children: Self-esteem as a predictor of depression and scholastic achievement in the U.S.
International Journal of Psychiatric Nursing Research
The eruption of conflicts and war in this century has led to new masses of refugees and displaced persons. Globally, host countries will continue to confront issues of how to ensure the successful adaptation of refugees who typically are women and children. The United States received three major waves of Southeast Asian (SEA) refugees during the past twenty-five years. One million SEA refugees arrived in the past decade; the majority were children and adolescents. Today, there is still a lack of understanding surrounding mental health issues and their relationship to children's violence experience. We know that SEA refugee children suffered violence during the war in Southeast Asia, their escape from homelands, in camps of asylum and in the U.S. Although researchers have examined the relationship of violence with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in refugee children, the findings have been unclear and sometimes conflictual in their relationship to scholastic achievement. In the U.S., healthy self-esteem is recognized as an important component of mental health and academic success, while low self-esteem is associated with depression and academic failure. In general, self-esteem and measures of self-esteem have not been studied cross-culturally. The authors report the findings of a measure of self-esteem, depression and academic achievement in a convenience sample of 237 Southeast Asian refugee children aged 6 to 17 years of age in the U.S. Internationally, nurses who assess the mental health of refugee children and design interventions to assist in their adaptation, will want to have an understanding of mental health issues cross-culturally.