Mentoring program promotes social and emotional well-being of young immigrants in Spain

Sánchez-Aragón, A., Belzunegui-Eraso, A., & Prieto-Flores, Ò. (2021). Results of Mentoring in the Psychosocial Well-Being of Young Immigrants and Refugees in Spain. Healthcare, 9(1), 13.

Summarized by Ariel Ervin

Notes of Interest: 

  • Evidence has shown that non-parental figures play an important role in the social inclusion of vulnerable communities and that mentoring can help promote positive intercultural relationships. 
  • This study examines how effective the Nightingale project (a community-based mentoring program in Spain) is at promoting social, cultural, and linguistic inclusion for young immigrants and refugees. 
  • Overall, the Nightingale project had a positive impact on the emotional well-being of the participants. 
  • Results highlight the importance of psychologists, social workers, and school counselors providing immigrant & refugee youths with resources that advocate for social support and social networks. 
  • Having policies and services that encourage supportive environments for immigrant and refugee youths can help mitigate some of the stress that is associated with moving to another country.  

Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

This study examined the change processes associated with the Nightingale project, a community-based mentoring programme whose aim is to promote the social inclusion of minors of immigrant origin. A pre-test–post-test study was conducted on a group of 158 young immigrants between the ages of 8 and 15, in which the influence of the mentoring programme on the youths’ psychosocial well-being was measured. Non-parametric tests were used to calculate the results before and after mentoring, comparing the results over a six-month period and controlling for sex and age. The analyses reflected associations between mentoring and improvements in specific aspects of the emotional well-being of young immigrants and highlighted the potential of mentorships to cushion the stressful events they are subjected to in the process of adapting to a new social reality.

Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)

This research aimed to identify whether the presence of a mentor that provides support can improve some specific aspects of the social and emotional well-being of young immigrants. The results of this study show that the development of a mentoring relationship improved some aspects of the psychosocial well-being of young immigrants and refugees, protecting them from the negative impact of the stress involved in adapting to a new country. This finding is consistent with earlier research that shows that the presence of a non-parental adult acts as a support that helps mentees increase their ability to overcome adverse events, such as those arising from leaving and adapting to a new context [26].

The support of a reliable ally provided participants with a number of personal and social benefits insofar as it helped them weave local support networks. Some of these benefits involve an improvement in their emotional and cognitive skills, as well as better social development. The mentees that participated in the project, as has been observed in other participants of formal mentoring programmes aimed at the inclusion of young people of foreign origin [25,59], improved their access to social capital resources, whose social networks constitute the framework in which support exchanges take place. The perceived availability of social support reduced some symptoms of stress associated with the migration process and made the youths more resilient, despite enduring significant adversity. The impact of mentoring on the promotion of resilience in adolescents from ethnic minorities supports the findings of a recent literature review [36,60,61,62].

Participation in the Nightingale project improved the minors’ relationships with their classmates. This corroborates the results of previous research that shows a positive association between mentoring and peer relationship development [63]. The importance of close peer relationships for immigrant adolescents has been found in previous social science research [64,65], the results of which show that peer social support not only promotes adaptation to the host country but also contributes to greater psychological well-being. In the present study, the increase in the perception of social support in school, as well as providing mentees with educational support, strengthened their feeling of personal worth.

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