Supporting Health and Psychosocial well-being for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2018) | Viewed by 41741

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Interests: various aspects of immigrant health, refugee health and global health; civic engagement with immigrants and people with disabilities; community based participatory research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With nearly 66 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, the global refugee situation has reached crisis proportions. A record number of refugees and asylum seekers are fleeing their countries of origin in search for safety and resettlement. Faced with this influx, host countries are struggling to accommodate refugee migrants in the midst of political opposition and limited material and human resources. As we approach the 70th anniversary of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, and as political instability and civil unrest become more widespread and protracted, there is a growing push for humanitarian interventions to move beyond crisis response and toward long-term investment in the well-being of displaced populations. This is an opportune moment to review and reflect on current, past, and future efforts to address the health and psychosocial needs of displaced populations.

Societies is soliciting proposals for a Special Issue on “Supporting Health and Psychosocial Well-Being for Refugees and Asylum Seekers”. The issue will bring together scholarly manuscripts from around the world that address this topic. We invite empirical and conceptual papers representing a variety of disciplines, and from academic researchers, service providers, and policy experts. We are particularly interested in submissions focusing on marginalized groups such as seniors, people with disabilities, and sexual minorities. Relevant topics include (but are not limited to) innovative services and programs, community needs assessments, and capacity-building at the local, national, and international levels.

If you would like to contribute to this Special Issue, please email the guest editor Mansha Mirza at [email protected]. In your email, include your name, affiliation, title for your proposed manuscript, and a 200-word abstract. If your proposal is deemed suitable for the special issue, the guest editor will contact you with detailed instructions for submitting the full manuscript. A tentative deadline for manuscript submission is 15th April 2018.

As of 2018, the Article Processing Charges for papers published in the journal will be covered via the Knowledge Unlatched crowd-funding mechanism. For more details, please see:
https://www.mdpi.com/journal/societies/announcements/1023

Dr. Mansha Parven Mirza
Guest Editor

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 double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • refugees
  • asylum seekers
  • healthcare
  • psychosocial needs
  • capacity-building

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 140 KiB  
Editorial
Special Issue: Supporting Health and Psychosocial Well-Being for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
by Mansha Parven Mirza
Societies 2019, 9(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9030052 - 6 Jul 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2570
Abstract
With nearly 69 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, the global refugee situation has reached crisis proportions [...] Full article

Research

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22 pages, 289 KiB  
Article
‘The Highest Attainable Standard’: The Right to Health for Refugees with Disabilities
by Laura Smith-Khan and Mary Crock
Societies 2019, 9(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9020033 - 29 Apr 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5136
Abstract
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) creates duties for States Parties and UN agencies to ensure that individuals under their protection have equal enjoyment of the full range of human rights. This includes the Article 25 right to enjoy [...] Read more.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) creates duties for States Parties and UN agencies to ensure that individuals under their protection have equal enjoyment of the full range of human rights. This includes the Article 25 right to enjoy ‘the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability.’ However, refugees, who are forced to seek protection outside their state, face particular obstacles to maintaining an adequate level of wellbeing and accessing services to meet their health needs. Among this group, those who have a disability may confront multiple intersecting challenges. This paper draws on the findings of research across countries that play host to significant refugee populations. It explores the contribution of the CRPD to the international human rights framework for refugees, with particular attention to the right to health. Incorporating evidence from the field, it discusses the implementation of these rights and related duties in humanitarian responses across the world. This article discusses common barriers to health services for refugees with disabilities in six host countries. Based on the broad conceptualization of health and wellbeing established in the international legal framework, it also examines the relationship between the fulfilment of Article 25 and other basic socioeconomic rights. It provides examples of good practice and identifies strategies to better ensure the rights set out in Article 25 of the CRPD. Full article
16 pages, 227 KiB  
Article
An Ethnographic Study of Deaf Refugees Seeking Asylum in Finland
by Nina Sivunen
Societies 2019, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010002 - 9 Jan 2019
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 7548
Abstract
Deaf asylum seekers are a marginalized group of people in refugee and forced migration studies. The aim of this paper is to explore and highlight the experiences of deaf asylum seekers in the asylum procedure in Finland. The data come from linguistic ethnographic [...] Read more.
Deaf asylum seekers are a marginalized group of people in refugee and forced migration studies. The aim of this paper is to explore and highlight the experiences of deaf asylum seekers in the asylum procedure in Finland. The data come from linguistic ethnographic methods, interviews, and ethnographic observation with 10 deaf asylum seekers. While living in the reception centers, the study participants have faced a range of linguistic and social challenges. The findings show that language barriers appeared from day one after the participants’ arrival in Finland. The investment and initiatives of deaf volunteers played a crucial role for deaf asylum seekers in their access to and participation in Finnish society. In addition, receiving formal Finnish sign language instruction had a positive effect on their well-being. Drawing on content analysis of deaf asylum seekers’ experiences, I argue that greater awareness, recognition, and support of deaf asylum seekers are needed in the Finnish asylum system. I conclude this paper with a discussion of and suggestions for a better asylum system for deaf individuals. Full article
10 pages, 197 KiB  
Article
Traditional Dance as a Vehicle for Identity Construction and Social Engagement after Forced Migration
by Yda J. Smith
Societies 2018, 8(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030067 - 17 Aug 2018
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 6565
Abstract
The Karen are the largest non-Burman ethnic group in Burma. After decades of violence in their homeland, hundreds of thousands have fled into refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. Over 73,000 Karen have been resettled in the United States. Karen youth in urban [...] Read more.
The Karen are the largest non-Burman ethnic group in Burma. After decades of violence in their homeland, hundreds of thousands have fled into refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. Over 73,000 Karen have been resettled in the United States. Karen youth in urban areas of the United States have been participating in traditional Karen dance, practicing and performing regularly. This study explored the reasons Karen youth choose to engage in this activity. Interviews were conducted and were analyzed using grounded theory qualitative research methods that were constructivist in nature. One over-arching theme, “If You Don’t Know Your Culture, You Don’t Know Who You Are”, and four sub-themes emerged from the data. Results demonstrate that group members are highly invested in maintaining their social engagement with their Karen community and find strength in Karen identity maintenance. This study demonstrates that those forced to migrate to a foreign country may face challenges to their sense of identity and belonging when immersed in a society that is unfamiliar to them. Local agencies can play an important role in the adaptation process by facilitating participation in meaningful activities that provide in-group social connections and opportunities to participate in familiar culturally relevant activities. Full article
12 pages, 221 KiB  
Article
Islamic Trauma Healing: Initial Feasibility and Pilot Data
by Lori Zoellner, Belinda Graham, Elizabeth Marks, Norah Feeny, Jacob Bentley, Anna Franklin and Duniya Lang
Societies 2018, 8(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030047 - 2 Jul 2018
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 7950
Abstract
Effective interventions for trauma-related psychopathology exist but there are considerable barriers to access and uptake by refugee groups. There is a clear need for culturally appropriate and accessible interventions designed in collaboration with refugee groups. Islamic Trauma Healing is a lay led, group [...] Read more.
Effective interventions for trauma-related psychopathology exist but there are considerable barriers to access and uptake by refugee groups. There is a clear need for culturally appropriate and accessible interventions designed in collaboration with refugee groups. Islamic Trauma Healing is a lay led, group intervention specifically targeting healing the mental wounds of trauma within local mosques. Using Prophet stories and turning to Allah about traumatic experiences, this program incorporates cognitive and exposure principles into an Islamic-informed intervention. In Study 1, following a community event describing the program, 39 Somali participants completed a brief trauma screening and interest measure. In Study 2, pre- to post-group pilot data related to PTSD, depression, somatic symptoms, well-being, and satisfaction was examined for men’s and women’s groups (N = 13). Qualitative analysis of group and leader feedback was conducted. Both studies suggest a strong perceived need and match with the Islamic faith for the intervention, with large effects from the pre- to post-group (g = 0.76 to 3.22). Qualitative analysis identified themes of community, faith integration, healing, and growth. The program was well-received by participants and offers a promising model for the delivery of trauma-focused intervention to Muslim refugee communities. Full article
10 pages, 233 KiB  
Article
A Qualitative Study Exploring the Psychosocial Needs of Male Undocumented Afghan Migrants in Istanbul, Turkey
by Qais Alemi, Susanne Montgomery and Carl Stempel
Societies 2018, 8(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8020022 - 18 Apr 2018
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3467
Abstract
(1) Background: Refugees and asylum-seekers from Afghanistan have been shown to be highly distressed as a result of pre- and post-resettlement traumas. However, little is known about the challenges that Afghan migrants endure while residing in Turkey, a population that has grown at [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Refugees and asylum-seekers from Afghanistan have been shown to be highly distressed as a result of pre- and post-resettlement traumas. However, little is known about the challenges that Afghan migrants endure while residing in Turkey, a population that has grown at unprecedented rates in recent years, and largely deemed illegal by Turkish asylum and settlement laws; (2) Methods: We conducted interviews with 15 Afghan males residing in Istanbul, Turkey in late 2015. A qualitative content analysis technique informed by Qualitative Description was used to analyze the data; (3) Results: Narratives revealed that motives for migrating to Turkey are driven by both a humanitarian need for protection against persecution and economic deprivation. While they are in transit, we observed that Afghan migrants are victimized, exposed to multiple traumas; and, in Turkey experience poverty, unemployment, and exploitation while living in poor conditions and receive no social assistance. Lastly, interviews revealed that their hopes reflect their motives for migrating, that is, to have a stable life and to support their families back home where ever they end up resettling; and (4) Conclusions: Our qualitative interviews clarified the harrowing and demoralizing transit experiences and the depth of exploitation and precarious living conditions that Afghans currently face. Findings have implications for asylum policies, and for delivering culturally-competent interventions that promote the overall well-being of Afghans in Turkey. Full article

Other

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9 pages, 176 KiB  
Project Report
Engaging Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Responses
by Dale Buscher
Societies 2018, 8(4), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040107 - 1 Nov 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3703
Abstract
This project report captures 10 years of work by the Women’s Refugee Commission on the inclusion of disability in humanitarian responses. The report covers early research on refugees with disabilities and subsequent work on disability inclusion, including the target areas of gender-based violence, [...] Read more.
This project report captures 10 years of work by the Women’s Refugee Commission on the inclusion of disability in humanitarian responses. The report covers early research on refugees with disabilities and subsequent work on disability inclusion, including the target areas of gender-based violence, child protection, and sexual and reproductive health. Later presented work focuses on engaging organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) in humanitarian responses—both as expert resources to inform humanitarian actors as well as sources of information, services, and social support for refugees with disabilities living in their host communities. The report concludes with recent work on soliciting input from DPO networks on the Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, which are currently under development. Full article
15 pages, 577 KiB  
Concept Paper
Fostering Community-Academic Partnerships to Promote Employment Opportunities for Refugees with Disabilities: Accomplishments, Dilemmas, and Deliberations
by Mansha Parven Mirza, Rooshey Hasnain and Kathryn B. Duke
Societies 2018, 8(3), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030086 - 12 Sep 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4052
Abstract
Little attention has been given to the processes and dynamics involved in community-engaged research with hard-to-reach and marginalized communities. This concept paper focuses on experiences with and lessons learned from the developmental phase of a community-engaged research project aimed at promoting the economic [...] Read more.
Little attention has been given to the processes and dynamics involved in community-engaged research with hard-to-reach and marginalized communities. This concept paper focuses on experiences with and lessons learned from the developmental phase of a community-engaged research project aimed at promoting the economic self-sufficiency of refugees with disabilities in Illinois. Steps taken to foster collaboration between academic researchers and community stakeholders are described, followed by the authors’ commentary on challenges encountered and how these were addressed. Several methods were used to facilitate engagement of community stakeholders. In the pre-funding stage, lead researchers identified potential community partners by networking with coalition groups and task forces focused on disability- and refugee-related issues. In the post-funding stage, relationships with partners were formalized, partners’ roles were defined, and contractual agreements were developed. An advisory board consisting of representatives from partner agencies and self-advocates with disabilities was also assembled to help guide the project goals and deliverables. Structured group and one-on-one meetings were held to sustain community partner engagement. These community engagement strategies were deemed successful. However, challenges did emerge due to conflict between community stakeholders’ preferences, and research logistics and regulatory requirements of the academic institution. Findings suggest that with careful planning, barriers to community-academic collaborations can be addressed in ways that benefit all parties. This paper offers practical strategies and a roadmap for other community-engaged research projects focusing on vulnerable and marginalized groups. Full article
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