Dr Anne Kouvonen, Dr Justyna Bell and Dr Michael Donnelly (QUB) - ‘We asked for workers, but human beings came’: Mental health and well-being of Polish migrants in Northern Ireland
This presentation will discuss our research in mental health and well-being of Polish migrants - the largest ethnic minority in Northern Ireland (NI) (Census 2011). Our findings suggest that many Polish migrants are still in a process of adapting to NI society and there is recognition that returning to Poland is less likely now than they anticipated initially. Migration to NI for most Poles was due to a local demand for workers and high unemployment in Poland. As noted by Max Frisch- cited in the presentation title - migrants are often perceived as workers only without much consideration given to other aspects of their lives as human beings. Accordingly, many are vulnerable to the difficulties of living in an unfamiliar environment, struggling with everyday communication, lacking close social networks, and are underemployed. As a result, many migrants in NI are living with chronic stress, manifesting as insomnia, anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and a high suicide rate.