Social identity, mental health and the experience of migration

Kristine Brance, Vasileios Chatzimpyros, Richard P. Bentall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence suggests that social identities, which provide purpose and a sense of belonging, enhance resilience against psychological strain and safeguard well-being. This applies to first-generation migrant populations facing adverse experiences, including prejudice and disconnection from previous identities during host country integration, negatively impacting their well-being. The importance of social identity also extends to first-generation migrant descendants, confronting dual-identity challenges and experiencing exclusion and discrimination despite being native born. Building on the social identity approach to mental health, 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate how migrants construct their social identities, their perspective on the challenges and changes they experience in relation to group memberships and ultimately, the influence this has on their psychological well-being. Findings emphasize the significance of social identity continuity and gain pathways in first-generation migrants' successful adjustment and psychological well-being. For second-generation migrants, dual-identity development is especially difficult during adolescence due to social exclusion and discrimination in schools. Even in early adulthood, pressure to maintain heritage identity can lead to negative mental health outcomes over time. The current study contributes to and strengthens the social identity approach to migrant mental health and has wider implications for psychological interventions and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Early online date8 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2024

Data Availability Statement

Data available on request from the authors: The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


  • group belonging
  • mental health
  • migrants
  • migration
  • social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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