1. To examine UM`s mental health during the asylum-seeking process. Are the official age assessed, level of support, and the outcome of the asylum application associated with mental health.
2. Will early intervention, using expressive arts in a group setting, give measurable change in psychological symptoms for UM (unaccompanied minors) boys?
The longitudinal follow-up study of mental Health is an observational cohort study. Participants are unaccompanied refugee minors arriving in Norway in the period 2009-2011. Over 200 participants will be recruited. Using computer based self-screening participants will be assessed 1-2 weeks after arrival, and at 4 months, 12 months and 24 months after arrival,
Data from Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25, and Harvard Trauma Questionnaire part IV will be collected
The study design of the intervention study is a randomized control trail study. The intervention will last 5 weeks. The subjects will be randomized into two groups: one group that receives EXIT (Expressive Arts in Transition) and the other group that will receive the usual health services and participate in the usual activities offered at the transit center. The intervention model that will be tested is: Expressive Arts in Transition (EXIT) for un-accompanied minor refugee boys (UM) in the transit center.
To test refugee boys where a high proportion of them are likely to have limited reading and writing-skills a Multilingual Computer-Assisted-Self-Interview (MultiCASI) is used. This is software that has been developed by ”Behandlungszentrum fur Folteropfer Berlin.” It uses a touch screen PC, where self-report instruments can be installed in different languages. All items can be answered by directly touching the screen and the written and audio versions appear simultaneously. Questions and answers can be repeated as many times as necessary through touch. The greatest advantage for this project is that we can test all participants in the same way, no matter their reading abilities. The un-accompanied minor refugee boys who participate will be evaluated at the start of the intervention, at the end, after- three months, one year and two years.
This method for testing has not been validated in relation to psychiatric diagnostics. To test this, a separate diagnostic interviews (CIDI) with (n=160) participants that is done simultaneously with the 3 month self-report test.
EXIT is a therapy method that uses movement, drawing, music, dance and drama and verbally expressing oneself. This therapy has shown to be a suitable treatment for un- accompanied minors. The model was developed by Meyer DeMott and was first used at Brinken Asylum Seeker Center in 1991 and since then has been further developed by Fossnes Asylum Seeker Center in 1992-1994 (Meyer og Nygård, 1993, Meyer 1995; 1997; 2007).
Some possible benefits of art oriented therapy forms in comparison to pure verbal therapy forms, is that for some it is easier to get in contact with and express suppressed feelings.
This project involves the putting into practice methods for a group of asylum seekers where there is great challenges associated both to the content of the method and as to how many refugees will be involved, and simultaneously carrying out a scientific evaluation of the effects of this method. These results will provide useful knowledge in how to implement early interventions during the transit stage to prevent isolation, anxiety and depression in UM, and it will form the foundation of scientifically-based preventative measures that can reduce psychological problems for unaccompanied minors.
This study will be the first of its kind in both Norway and Europe.