To examine whether enculturation factors, like cultural activities, ethnic pride and native language competence, are related to decreased internalizing and externalizing symptoms in Indigenous Sami youth from Arctic Norway. The impact of self-efficacy on the relationship between enculturation factors and mental health problems was also examined.
The Norwegian Arctic Adolescent Health Study was conducted among 10th graders in junior high schools in north Norway during 2003-2005. The study sample consisted of 450 Indigenous Sami youth, aged 15-16 years. Internalizing symptoms were measured with the Hopkins Symptom Check List-10 (HSCL-10), while externalizing symptoms were measured by two subscales of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).
For boys, self-efficacy and participation in cultural activities were associated with decreased internalizing symptoms. Additionally, self-efficacy interacted with Sami language competence and cultural activities: when self-efficacy increased, these enculturation factors were related to symptom reduction. For girls, self-efficacy had an independent effect on internalizing symptoms and also strengthened the relationship between participation in cultural activities and reduced externalizing symptoms. Sami language competence was related to the reduction of both internalizing and externalizing symptoms in girls.
In the present study, several enculturation factors as well as self-efficacy were identified as potential protective factors against mental health problems. In order to develop theoretical models that explain the mechanisms between cultural resilience and mental health, there is a need for both qualitative studies and longitudinal studies.