In Search Of Hope And Home.
This American Psychological Association article details what can be done to assist refugees to come to terms with their traumatic past as they are resettled in new home countries. The tragedies in the Middle East and Africa had generated the largest humanitarian crisis in living memory, stretching worldwide resources to its limits. Addressing purely psychological issues, Rebecca Clay clues us in on the global magnitude of the issues being confronted as war and civil strife have been largely responsible for this epidemic of mass migration. Refugees are a particularly vulnerable population that is at risk for mental health problems for a variety of reasons: traumatic experiences in and escapes from their countries of origin, difficult camp or transit experiences, culture conflict, adjustment problems in the country of resettlement, and multiple losses– family members, country, and way of life. Furthermore, they are vulnerable to psychological distress due to uprooting and adjustment difficulties in the resettlement country, such as language, occupational problems, and cultural conflict. Uprooting creates culture shock, a stress response to a new situation in which former patterns of behaviour are ineffective and basic cues for social intercourse are absent. The clinical and research literature shows a significant degree of psychological stress among refugees with relatively high levels of physical and psychological dysfunction during the first two years of resettlement; after three years, there was some improvement and increased adaptability, but there was still serious and pervasive adjustment problems, such as high levels of somatization, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms have even been noted five years after resettlement (Lipson, 1993 & Chung & Kagawa-Singer, 1993).
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