Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders Among Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Adolescents in Norway

Marianne Jakobsen 1, *, Melinda A. M Demott 1, Trond Heir 1, 2
1 Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Postboks 181 Nydalen Oslo, Norway
2 University of Oslo, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Oslo, Norway

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© Jakobsen et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies Postboks 181 Nydalen Oslo, Norway; Tel: +47 22 59 55 00 / +47 48 02 39 28; Fax: +47 22 59 55 01; E-mail:


Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) are known to be subjected to several potentially traumatic life events, risking more mental health problems than other populations of same age. In this study, we aimed to explore the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity at an early stage after arrival to the host country. We performed structured clinical interviews (CIDI) with 160 male UASC from different countries (Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran), after four months in Norway. Most of the participants had experienced life threatening events (82%), physical abuse (78%), or loss of a close relative (78%) in their former life. Altogether 41.9% of the participants fulfilled diagnostic criteria for a current psychiatric disorder. The most prevalent diagnosis was PTSD (30, 6%), followed by MDD (9, 4%), Agoraphobia (4, 4%) and GAD (3, 8%). Implications of this vulnerability call for more mental health resources in the early stages of the asylum process. Increased awareness of psychiatric morbidity in UASC may improve the prognosis, give more appropriate care, and ease the integration process on all levels of society.

Keywords: Afghan, asylum, mental health, PTSD, refugee children, Somali.