Seeking Longevity for Refugees in Resettlement: Challenges and Protective Factors
Refugees face numerous challenges to stability when resettling to the United States that may impact their long-term health as well including lack of employable skills, language differences and cultural adjustment difficulties (Morris, Popper, Rodwell, Bordine, & Bower, 2009), poverty, unsafe housing and homelessness, family violence and social isolation (Miller, 2010). Refugees may struggle to access needed health and mental health care due to lack of system knowledge, lack of interpreters and transportation, stigma and cultural beliefs about health and mental health care (Saechao et al, 2012; Shannon, O’Doughterty, & Mehta, 2012). Recent research suggests that such post-migration daily stressors moderate the impact of war trauma on the long-term mental health outcomes of refugees (Miller & Rasmussen, 2010) and that the presence of multiple post-migration stressors negatively impacts long-term adjustment (Porter & Haslam, 2005). Demographic data indicates further that age is associated with increased pre and post migration stressors and negative mental health outcomes, however very little research has documented the resettlement experiences of refugees as they age (Perera et al, 2013). .
This symposium presents findings from four studies focused on identifying resettlement stressors, protective factors and their impact on long-term resettlement success of refugees as they age. Paper 1 is an ethnographic exploration of resettlement stressors identified by newly arriving refugees and how they define what helps refugees do better. The second Paper is an ethnographic study of the aging experiences of Bhutanese refugees. The third paper presents a mixed methods study of trauma exposure and its impact on mental health in aging Karen refugees.