Adolescent and Young Refugee Perspectives on Psychosocial Well-being
Today's migration patterns have shifted in ways that bring new challenges to the field of refugee mental health. New refugee arrivals in developed countries are an extremely diverse group. As a result, multiple treatment approaches must be developed addressing the needs of diverse, multicultural and multilingual populations (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003). There is now clearer recognition that, in a country as culturally and linguistically diverse as Australia, specific attention must be paid to the cultural dimensions of mental disorder and mental health service design and the specific needs of Indigenous people, immigrants and refugees (Minas et al, 1996). It has been clearly demonstrated that refugee children and adolescents are vulnerable to the effects of pre-migration, most notably exposure to trauma. Refugee children are often torn between their homeland culture, the culture of the new country and the culture of refugee resettlement (Hyman, Vu & Beiser, 2000). This research study interwove migration, resettlement and identity formation into an understanding of psychosocial wellbeing of adolescent refugee children. The conceptual framework used for this qualitative study viewed psychosocial well-being of an individual with respect to three core domains: human capacity (mental health and well being); social ecology (relationships linking individuals within and between communities); and culture and values (the value and meaning given to behaviour and experience)(Psychosocial Working Group, 2003). The research used a case study approach within a qualitative framework (Merriam, 1998). The qualitative approach, more sensitive to the context included in-depth interviews, focus group interviews, school visits, accumulation of documentary data and reflective narratives. This study provided recommendations, strategies and a framework for further research and interventions into school psychosocial health promotion and intervention for adolescent refugee children.
Keywords: Adolescent Refugee Children, Resettlement and Acculturation, Psychosocial Well-being, Identity Formation
Dr Jaya Earnest
Lecturer, Centre for International Health, Curtin University of Technology