Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers – Trauma experiences and mental health problems

In this study we investigate the experiences that unaccompanied asylum seekers who come to Norway under the age of 15 have had prior to arriving in Norway, and the needs and issues they have upon arrival and after moving to a municipality.  They are interviewed at three time points.

2009 This project is ongoing 2024

Project Manager

Project Members

The study has three purposes. The first is to acquire more knowledge about the potentially traumatizing experiences that young, single asylum seekers have had before arriving in Norway. The second purpose is to gain more knowledge about the psychological difficulties they have. And the third is to understand more of their longterm mental health problems and acculturation. Knowledge of this type will be important both for the assessment of the individual child’s treatment needs and for planning and preparation of interventions at the care centres that receive young, single asylum seekers.
The following research issues are to be addressed:

  • What are the experiences that young, unaccompanied asylum seekers have had before their arrival in Norway?
  • To what extent do they have mental health problems?
  • How do their mental health problems develop over time and how do they cope?
  • How do they describe their situation before and during the flight to Norway, and how do they percieve their current situation?
Semi-structured interview and survey of PTSD, experiences of trauma and general psychological health at three time points: The first is when they are newly arrived to Norway and the second and third is when they have moved to the municipality.


Andersson, E. S., Skar, A. M. S., & Jensen, T. K. (2021). Unaccompanied refugee minors and resettlement: Turning points towards integration. European Journal of Social Psychology, 1-30. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2761

Jensen, T. K., Skar, A. M. S., Andersson, E. S., & Birkeland, M. S. (2019). Long-term mental health in unaccompanied refugee minors: Pre- and post-flight predictors. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. doi:10.1007/s00787-019-01340-6

Kjelaas, I., Solvor Mjønes, L., Jensen, T. K., Eide, K., Lønning, M. N., Lønning, M. N., Lidén, H., Sveaass, N., Oppedal, B., Omland, G. B., Pastoor, L. d. W., Guribye, E., Dyregrov, A., & Flatland, T. (2017). Mot bedre viten om barns beste.

Skårdalsmo, E. M. B., & Harnischfeger, J. (2017). Vær snill! – Råd fra enslige mindreårige asylsøkere og flyktninger til voksne omsorgsgivere. Tidsskriftet Norges Barnevern, 94(1), 6-21. doi:10.18261/issn.1891-1838-2017-01-02

Skårdalsmo, E. M. B., & Jensen, T. K. (2015). Unaccompanied refugee minors’ early life narratives of physical abuse from caregivers and teachers in their home countries. International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, 48, 148-159. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.08.003

Jensen, T. K., Skårdalsmo, E. M. B., & Fjermestad, K. (2014). Development of mental health problems – a follow-up study of unaccompanied refugee minors. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health (CAPMH). doi:10.1186/1753-2000-8-29

Jensen, T. K. (2013). Enslige mindreårige asylsøkere i Norge – får de nok hjelp. Speilvendt, 4, 14-19.

Jensen, T. K., Fjermestad, K., Granly, L., & Wilhelmsen, N. (2013). Stressful Life Experiences and Mental Health Problems among Unaccompanied Asylumseeking Children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. doi:10.1177/1359104513499356

Dittmann, I., & Jensen, T. K. (2010). Enslige mindreårige flyktningers psykiske helse – en litteraturstudie[ The mental health of young unaccompanied refugees – a review.] Norwegian only. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 47(9), 812-817.