How do Health Visitors think parental psychological stress or mental illness influences early child development in Somali families in Bristol?

Project Details


Global Health BSc Student Dissertation - Amelia Kerr

Key findings

Background: The Somali refugee population has been subject to risk factors for psychological stress due to forced migration from areas of conflict. There have been concerns regarding the development of Somali children living in Bristol.
Aims: To explore health professional’s beliefs surrounding psychological stress in this population, if a significant problem, whether the ways in which these two factors are influenced by each other. To analyse factors and presentations of early child development in this population. Finally, to indentify potential recommendations for practise and future research.
Method: Qualitative cross-sectional study design was chosen using semi-structured interviews with Bristol Health Visitors. Thematic analysis from an interpretative phenomenological perspective was then used to interpret data.

Results: Themes included ‘Resilience, privacy and a closed society’, which explored barriers in the population against speaking about mental health these included linguistic and cultural characteristics of resilience and concealment. ‘Developmental Delays’ explored the behavioural, speech and language delays observed in Somali children and ‘Parenting and Socialising’ which explored differences in parenting, in terms of play and interaction and the benefits of socialising for Somali families.

Conclusion: Psychological stress is present in this society however it is frequently concealed due to cultural and language barriers. The findings of this study highlight some of the ways in which this parental psychological stress can lead to isolation and subsequent restrictions on child play and interaction. Recommendations include, cultural specific education for health professionals in order to explore each Somalis individual beliefs and further research is needed into mother-child relationship during this critical time.
Effective start/end date1/12/1317/05/14


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