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Brexit, acculturative stress and mental health among EU citizens in Scotland.

Teodorowski, Piotr; Woods, Ruth; Czarnecka, Magda; Kennedy, Catriona


Piotr Teodorowski

Magda Czarnecka


The ‘Brexit’ referendum represents a hostile shift in the United Kingdom’s acculturative context. With its remain majority and pro-migration political discourse, Scotland appears less hostile than the rest of the United Kingdom. We explored whether and how Brexit affected the mental health of European Union citizens living in Scotland. Thirty EU citizens took part in seven focus groups. Participants reported three main sources of acculturative stress: uncertainty, feelings of rejection, and experiences of loss. These were associated with a range of negative emotional and mental states including anxiety, anger, shock and sadness. A minority reported severe difficulties including trauma, panic attacks, and deterioration of existing physical and mental health conditions. Participants mobilized contrasts between Scotland and other parts of the UK to partially mitigate feelings of rejection. These findings indicate that the UK’s hostile acculturative context has had important, enduring effects on the mental health of EU citizens in Scotland.


TEODOROWSKI, P., WOODS, R., CZARNECKA, M. and KENNEDY, C. 2021. Brexit, acculturative stress and mental health among EU citizens in Scotland. Population, space and place [online], 27(6), article number e2436. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 4, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 20, 2021
Publication Date Aug 31, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 14, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 21, 2023
Journal Population, space and place
Print ISSN 1544-8444
Electronic ISSN 1544-8452
Publisher Wiley Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 6
Article Number e2436
Keywords Brexit; Acculturative stress; Stigma; Mental health; Scotland; Integration
Public URL


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