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Mental Health among Syrian Immigrants in Iraq

Firouzeh Sepehrianazar , Sara Qader Tilee and Margarida Gaspar de Matos*

Background: The migration of Syrian citizens to many parts of the world began after civil war in Syria. Many migrants lost their homes, friends and relatives as a result of the civil war. Millions of Syrians have been refugees to European countries and especially to neighboring countries such as Libya, Turkey and Iraq. They have experienced housing, safety and cultural gap problems, which may put their mental health at risk. Many present signs of physical and mental illness, such as an insomnia, a weakened immune system, drug addiction, self-harm, and aggression, making their social adjustment more and more difficult. Despite facing the same conditions, other immigrants succeed to adjust with the new environment. It is necessary to understand factors that may optimize immigrants’ social adjustment.

Objectives: The aim of the present study is to evaluate to what extend some characteristics of Syrian immigrants in Iraq, such as cultural intelligence, emotional intelligence are related to their social adjustment, and the role of mental health upon that relationship.

Methods: Participants are Syrian immigrants who live in Erbil – Iraq. Data collection was held in 2017. Were randomly included 288 subjects (50% female). All participants completed 4 questionnaires translated from Persian version to Arabic language: Cultural and Emotional Intelligence Questionnaires (CI and EI), a Social Adjustment scale (SA) and a Mental Health Questionnaire (MH).

Results: This study presents an empirical study into the mental health of immigrants. More specific, based on collected questionnaire data an explanatory model for mental health and social adjustment is established on the basis of emotional- and cultural intelligence. A better mental health is associated with better social adjustment. Emotional and cultural intelligence are significantly and positively and significantly and positively associated to social adjustment. Cultural intelligence is significantly and positively related to mental health, while emotional intelligence has no significant relation with mental health, when simultaneous effects are analyzed.

Conclusions: The present results suggest that mental health may have an intermediate role in the relationship between cultural intelligence and social adjustment, but no intermediate role in the relationship between emotional intelligence and social adjustment. Results convey an important message to public policies, highlighting the importance of preserving both cultural and emotional intelligence among Syrian immigrant in Iraq, as a measure to assure their mental health and social adjustment.

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