In Greenland, the rapid sociocultural change of the last 50 years has been paralleled by an epidemiological transition characterized by a reduction in infectious diseases, an increase in cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and an increased prevalence of mental health problems. During 1993-94 and 1997-98, two health interview surveys were conducted among Inuit in Greenland and Inuit migrants in Denmark. The response rates were 71 and 55%. Information on mental health was obtained from 1388 and 1769 adults. As indicators of mental health, the prevalence of potential psychiatric cases according to the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the prevalence of suicidal thoughts were studied in relation to childhood residence and father's occupation, current residence, and language. The statistical methods included logistic regression and graphical independence models. The results indicated a U-shaped association in Greenland of GHQ-cases with age and a high prevalence of suicidal thoughts among young people; a low prevalence of GHQ-cases among those who were bilingual or spoke only Danish; and a high prevalence of suicidal thoughts among migrants who grew up in Denmark and among residents of the capital of Greenland. In Greenland, women were more often GHQ-cases and had suicidal thoughts more often than men. The association between language and GHQ-cases is presumed to operate through socioeconomic factors. It is necessary to modify the common notion that rapid societal development is in itself a cause of poor mental health: as a result of successful integration into the modern Greenlandic society, some population groups have better mental health compared to other groups.