Mental health in Middle Eastern refugees resettled in the Western countries

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Weihrauch, Mareike
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University College Cork
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Study 1 (A Narrative Systematic Review) Abstract - Objectives: In recent years, a high number of Middle Eastern refugees have resettled in high-income countries. Those families have experienced significant traumatic experiences that impact on the functioning and well-being of whole families. This systematic review examines if family/parental functioning influences child and youth psychosocial outcomes within refugee families from the Middle East who have resettled in high-income countries. Method: PRISMA guidelines were followed for the identification and selection of articles resulting in the inclusion of 19 articles based on 10 separate samples. Due to the heterogeneity of articles, a narrative methodology was applied for the analysis of included studies. Findings: A consistent association between parental trauma/PTSD and child PTSD and mental health was found. A gendered element to the experience of distress in refugee families was indicated with maternal factors in particular being associated with child outcomes. Parental mental health and family factors were identified as risk and protective factors. Child outcomes are impacted by various complex pathways of parental and family factors occurred during pre-settlement and in the resettlement environment. Further, children’s resettlement context, such as peer relationships are suggested to facilitate positive outcomes. Conclusion: While based on a small sample of studies, results support the thorough assessment of whole families. Further research using more consistent measures across studies is required to further promote the understanding of processes involved in the interaction between parental/family factors and child outcomes in Middle Eastern refugee families resettled in high-income countries.
Study 2 (Major Research Project) Abstract - Purpose of this study was to explore prevalence rates and nature of mental health presentations among Syrian and Iraqi refugees resettled in Ireland. The second aim was to identify resettlement components based on a participatory construct elicitation method with refugees and their support workers. The third aim was to determine how well those components in addition to demographic variables and resilience predict refugees’ overall mental health distress in the resettlement environment. This study utilised a mixed-methods cross-sectional design. 14 participatory workshops with refugees and professionals supporting refuges were conducted to identify facilitators and barriers for families’ resettlement. Those items were quantified to explore their contribution to mental health distress. Mental health presentations assessed were symptoms of anxiety and depression (HSCL-25), post-traumatic stress disorder (IES-R), somatic complaints (PHQ-15). Additionally, Resilience (Systemic Resources) was measured. Data was collected between February 2018 and January 2019. A total of 64 adults completed the self-report measures. Symptoms of anxiety were found for 44%, symptoms of depression were found for 32%, and symptoms of PTSD for 65%. Mental health symptoms were associated with somatic complaints and self-rated psychological distress. In the model constructed via multiple hierarchical regression, uniquely significant contributions to variances in Mental Health Distress were made by Resilience (Systemic Resources), ‘Major Life Challenges: Caring for Family Members and Personal Issues’, and Number of Children. The findings highlight that Syrian and Iraqi refugees are a vulnerable population in Ireland requiring assessment, access to supports and resources. Besides the access to specialised psychological treatments for mental health disorder, the implementation of programmes fostering resilience and social connection and support is of importance. This needs to be considered for policy and service development to reduce mental health distress and strengthen resilience in refugee families.
Middle Eastern refugees , Refugee , Anxiety , Depression , PTSD , Resilience , Ireland , Middle East , Refugee families , Refugee child outcomes , Mental health
Weihrauch, M. 2019. Mental health in Middle Eastern refugees resettled in the Western countries. DClinPsych Thesis, University College Cork.
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