Session: Measuring and Addressing Mental Health, Self-Reliance and Safety Among Refugees and Conflict-Affected Populations (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

199 Measuring and Addressing Mental Health, Self-Reliance and Safety Among Refugees and Conflict-Affected Populations

Friday, January 22, 2021: 1:15 PM-2:15 PM
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees
Symposium Organizer:
Lindsay Stark, DrPH, Washington University in Saint Louis

It is currently estimated that one out of every 113 people is seeking asylum, internally displaced or a refugee – a level of global risk for which there is no known precedent. Conflict, climate change, drought and other natural disasters have resulted in the highest levels of displacement ever recorded (more than 65.3 million people). The negative impacts of emergencies are well-documented and include multiple risks to mental health, safety, and overall well-being. In recent years, a range of policies and interventions have been implemented to improve the circumstances of refugees and internally displaced peoples, and the humanitarian and research communities have developed new and innovative efforts to measure and evaluate these concepts and interventions. This symposium offers insights and lessons learned around how to best measure and support the safety and wellbeing of conflict-affected populations in conflict, low-income, and high-income country settings.

Methods This symposium will synthesize findings from five research endeavors relating to the safety and wellbeing of conflict-affected populations. The first presentation synthesizes existing evidence for interventions to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls in humanitarian settings, focusing on two key issues: (i) the effectiveness of women and girls’ safe spaces (WGSS) and interventions targeting adolescents girls, specifically. The second presentation will present a mixed methods, pilot randomized-control trial evaluating the comparative impacts on adolescent girls’ vulnerability to violence, of two study arms: 1) a synchronized, sibling-centered intervention that concurrently engages girls aged 10-14, their male siblings aged 15-19, and parents/caregivers with 2) a traditional intervention model that engages only girls aged 10-14 and parents/caregivers. In the third presentation, the author will discuss the development of the Self-Reliance Index (SRI), a tool that captures multiple dimensions of self-reliance for refugee households and can be used by organizations to track refugee households’ changes in self-reliance over time. A fourth presentation will present SALaMA, a mixed-methods study seeking to assess the mental health of foreign-born adolescents from Arab-majority countries in three U.S. cities, as well as to identify best practices for schools, communities, and parents to support adolescents’ well-being and academic success. Finally, the fifth presenter will describe mechanisms contributing to intergenerational transmission of violence and present a global review of psychosocial support interventions for children that have the potential to reduce trauma and break cycles of violence in humanitarian settings.

Results In addition to sharing key findings from their studies, the speakers’ presentations will present challenges and considerations related to working and conducting research in humanitarian contexts. Presenters will also discuss the policy and program implications for addressing mental health, safety, and well-being among refugee and internally displaced populations across multiple settings.

Conclusions Findings from these four studies demonstrate the range of safety-, mental health-, and well-being-related issues facing conflict-affected individuals across the globe, as well as promising practices for identifying and addressing these issues. Practitioners should reference the growing body of research on refugees and internally displaced peoples when designing effective, participatory interventions to best meet the needs of these populations.

* noted as presenting author
See more of: Symposia