Special Issue "Refugee Mental Health and Wellbeing: Innovations, Ethics and New Directions"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 October 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Caroline Lenette
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Social Sciences, Australian Human Rights Institute, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney 2031, Australia
Interests: social health; arts-health research; participatory research; trauma-informed approaches; gender-sensitive research
Prof. Dr. Yesim Erim
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Psychosomatic and Psychotherapeutic Department, University Hospital Erlangen, 91054 Erlangen, Germany
Interests: psychosomatics; immigrant and refugee mental health; psychooncology and psychosocial aspects of transplantation; psychotherapy research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

This Special Issue entitled “Refugee Mental Health and Wellbeing: Innovations, Ethics and New Directions” is timely. As we take stock of the vast health and socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds have continued to experience complex circumstances. The uncertainty of the past few months has presented significant challenges alongside new and creative opportunities to advance research on refugee mental health and wellbeing. We are now thinking about new ways of addressing enduring issues by focusing on strengths-based, interdisciplinary approaches. This Special Issue presents a selection of this exciting, innovative research.

We are particularly interested in papers that directly address diversity and intersectional issues with particular attention paid to the impacts of gender, age, language, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, educational, political and socioeconomic backgrounds or (dis)ability to dispel the myth that people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds constitute one uniform group.

Since the last major migration movement associated with the Syrian war, international organisations such as WHO and European authorities have supported major projects for the psychosocial care of refugees and asylum seekers. It is very gratifying to see the first results of these projects being published. On the other hand, there is a lack of work that presents how innovative solutions may become sustainable.

Post-migratory concerns such as social exclusion and discrimination are significant concerns for the integration of refugees in host countries. We would therefore like to invite reports from the health care and community sector, as well as urban authorities and municipalities.

We encourage submissions from academic researchers co-written with people with lived experiences, as well as research that is explicitly decolonial. The field of refugee studies is still plagued by outsider views, especially from Global North countries. Let us ensure that this new decade marks a significant turning point in that respect.

Dr. Caroline Lenette
Prof. Dr. Yesim Erim
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • refugee mental health and wellbeing;
  • asylum-seeker health and wellbeing;
  • trauma-informed research;
  • ethics;
  • intersectionality.

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
The Effect of Postmigration Factors on Quality of Life among North Korean Refugees Living in South Korea
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11036; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182111036 (registering DOI) - 20 Oct 2021
Viewed by 290
Abstract
North Korean refugees have not only endured traumatic experiences in North Korea and during defection but have also undergone an adaptation process after arrival in South Korea. Their quality of life (QoL) is likely to be affected by these traumatic life events, leading [...] Read more.
North Korean refugees have not only endured traumatic experiences in North Korea and during defection but have also undergone an adaptation process after arrival in South Korea. Their quality of life (QoL) is likely to be affected by these traumatic life events, leading to subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or postmigration adaptation-related stress, which involves a sense of dislocation with the culture, language, and people in South Korea. We investigated which aspects predicted the QoL of refugees from North Korea. Fifty-five participants currently living in South Korea completed a checklist about personal characteristics and traumatic experiences before, during and after migration. Diagnosis and symptom severity of PTSD, depressive mood, anxiety, and QoL were also assessed. A multiple regression analysis was performed to evaluate associations between QoL and other variables of interest. Overall, QoL was associated with previous economic status in North Korea, present occupation in South Korea, difficulty interacting with South Koreans, depressed mood, and state–trait anxiety. Finally, QoL was explained by having difficulty interacting with South Koreans, depressed mood, and state anxiety, with the model accounting for 51.3% of the variance. Our findings suggest that QoL among North Korean refugees in South Korea is influenced by the current level of their anxiety and depressed mood, and post-migration adaptation-related stress resulting from trying to integrate with South Koreans after settlement. Full article
Article
The Role of Coping Strategies in Post-Traumatic Growth among Syrian Refugees: A Structural Equation Model
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8829; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18168829 - 21 Aug 2021
Viewed by 625
Abstract
The Syrian conflict has led to a mass migration of Syrians to other countries and exposed them to many possible traumatic events and stressors in their country of origin and in the resettlement process. The possibility of positive psychological effects of adverse life [...] Read more.
The Syrian conflict has led to a mass migration of Syrians to other countries and exposed them to many possible traumatic events and stressors in their country of origin and in the resettlement process. The possibility of positive psychological effects of adverse life events is less documented among Syrian refugees. Thus, the current study aimed to develop preliminary evidence for the identifying factors: traumatic experiences, post-migration stressors and coping strategies that are associated with post-traumatic growth (PTG) of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used in the current study to assess the associations among these factors. Data were obtained from Syrian refugees residing in the governorates of Hatay and Mardin. A total of 528 Syrians, aged between 18–77 years (M = 35.60, SD = 11.65) participated in this cross-sectional study. Results from the SEM indicated that past traumatic experiences and post-migration stressors were indirectly related to PTG. The results from the current study provide support for that the association between refugees’ traumatic experiences, post-migration stressors and PTG appear to be explained through the presence of coping strategies which could be addressed in the psychotherapies and psychosocial interventions for refugees to promote positive psychological change. Future studies should address the effects of post-migration stressors on PTG in detail. Full article
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Article
Traumatized Syrian Refugees with Ambiguous Loss: Predictors of Mental Distress
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 3865; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18083865 - 07 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 915
Abstract
Refugees from war zones often have missing significant others. A loss without confirmation is described as an ambiguous loss. This physical absence with simultaneous mental persistence can be accompanied by economic, social or legal problems, boundary ambiguity (i.e., uncertainty about who belongs to [...] Read more.
Refugees from war zones often have missing significant others. A loss without confirmation is described as an ambiguous loss. This physical absence with simultaneous mental persistence can be accompanied by economic, social or legal problems, boundary ambiguity (i.e., uncertainty about who belongs to the family system), and can have a negative impact on mental health. The aim of this study was to identify sociodemographic and loss-related predictors for prolonged grief, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and somatization in treatment-seeking Syrian refugees with post-traumatic stress symptoms in Germany experiencing ambiguous loss. For the present study, data were based on the treatment-seeking baseline sample of the “Sanadak” randomized-controlled trial, analyzing a subsample of 47 Syrian refugees with post-traumatic stress symptoms in Germany experiencing ambiguous loss. Sociodemographic and loss-related questions were applied, along with standardized instruments for symptoms of prolonged grief (ICG), anxiety (GAD-7), depression (PHQ-9), PTSD (PDS-5) and somatization (PHQ-15). Linear regression models were used to predict mental health outcomes. Having lost a close family member and higher boundary ambiguity showed a statistically significant association with higher severity in prolonged grief. The overall model for somatization reached statistical significance, while no predictor independently did. Boundary ambiguity showed a statistically significant positive association with depression, while the overall model showed no statistically significant associations. Boundary ambiguity and missing family members seemed to be important predictors for prolonged grief. These findings support the importance of reunification programs and suggest an inclusion of the topic into psychosocial support structures, e.g., including psychoeducational elements on boundary ambiguity in support groups for traumatized individuals and families experiencing ambiguous loss. Further research is needed for a more detailed understanding of the impact of ambiguous loss on refugee populations. Full article
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