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Mental health status and risk factors for mental health problems in left-behind children of women migrant workers in Sri Lanka

Authors:

BCV Senaratne ,

Department of Community Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
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H Perera,

Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Colombo, LK
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P Fonseka

Department of Community Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
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Abstract

Introduction Many married Sri Lankan women annually migrate for employment overseas. Despite widely speculated psychological consequences in these children, their mental health status has not been systematically studied using validated instruments.

Objectives To describe mental health status of children of women overseas workers and compare that with children of locally employed women, and to describe socio-demographic factors and risk factors associated with abnormal mental health in these children.

Methods A cross sectional comparative survey was conducted among 253 children (aged 5-10 years) of women migrant workers in the Colombo District and age and sex matched controls from same neighbourhood. Tools used were the validated Sinhala translation of Child Behaviour Check List (CBCL-S) and questionnaires on socio-demographic/risk factors and school functioning.

Results Mean CBCL-S scores and proportion of children with mental health problems were significantly higher in the study group. Not having an elder sibling, father not living with child, mother educated up to grade 5 or less, change of principal carer (PC) twice or more, living with a relative (or not living in own home), child not communicating freely with PC, and not being permitted to engage in recreational activities at school were significantly associated with abnormal mental health of children of migrant women.

Conclusions A high awareness is required among health and social care authorities regarding mental health problems in these children and relevant risk factors in order to take preventive measures.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v56i4.3893  

migrant; children; mental health; education; Sri LankaCeylon Medical Journal 2011; 56: 153-158

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v56i4.3893
How to Cite: Senaratne, B., Perera, H. and Fonseka, P., 2011. Mental health status and risk factors for mental health problems in left-behind children of women migrant workers in Sri Lanka. Ceylon Medical Journal, 56(4), pp.153–158. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v56i4.3893
Published on 30 Dec 2011.
Peer Reviewed

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