Family and individual factors associated with Turkish immigrant and German children’s and adolescents’ mental health.


Turkish immigrants represent the largest ethnic minority in Germany however information about the factors associated with their children’s mental health is scarce. This study examined family and individual factors associated with the strengths and difficulties of Turkish immigrant children and adolescents in comparison with their German peers. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQs) were rated by participants’ mothers (N = 480) and teachers (n = 164). Compared with German mothers (n = 121), Turkish immigrant mothers (n = 359) rated their children’s total difficulties, their emotional symptoms and peer problems as well as their prosocial behavior as significantly higher. In contrast, there were no differences in the participating teachers’ ratings of Turkish immigrant compared with German children’s strengths and difficulties. Regression analyses revealed that child gender and family adversity were cross-culturally associated with SDQ scores whereas inconsistent parenting only affected German children’s externalizing behavior problems. Factors associated with Turkish immigrant and German children’s mental health problems are thus both cross-culturally comparable and culturally specific. More information is needed in order to identify individuals at highest risk to develop certain types of behavior problems and provide specific prevention strategies.