Session: Refugee Youth: Identifying Risk and Protective Factors for Psychosocial Well-Being, Substance Use, and Educational Outcomes (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

338 Refugee Youth: Identifying Risk and Protective Factors for Psychosocial Well-Being, Substance Use, and Educational Outcomes

Sunday, January 16, 2022: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Marquis BR Salon 13, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees
Symposium Organizer:
Mary Lehman Held, PhD, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Refugee youth navigate distinct migration and cultural contexts that influence their well-being long into the resettlement process. Pre-, peri-, and post-migration experiences yield lasting effects on behavioral health and educational outcomes during resettlement in the United States. Before leaving a home nation, refugee youth are exposed to multiple forms of trauma, such as extreme violence and persecution, that stem from racial, social and political injustice. The numerous youth who flee for safety and survival to a refugee camp in order to await resettlement endure further hardships and trauma as they live with limited access to basic supports and face disruptions to schooling. When the option for resettlement is available, youth have access to new opportunities, as well as sources of support and safety, to aid in building a new life. Yet, the resettlement process also presents novel stressors and risk factors that are detrimental to behavioral health, as well as developmental and educational outcomes. Citizen children of refugees also contend with the stressors associated with migration, as their parents are deeply impacted by the hardships and trauma. Further both refugee youth and youth with refugee parents are residing in an unsupportive sociopolitical context in the United States, as long-standing challenges that are present during resettlement have been exacerbated in the recent environment of exclusionary immigration policies and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Federal policies under the Trump administration were centered on reducing the overall number of refugees permitted to resettle in the United States while also banning residents of select refugee-sending nations. The administration then leveraged the emergence of COVID-19 to spur additional surges of discriminatory rhetoric against select immigrant subgroups. As a result, many refugee youths have been required to navigate historic immigration and resettlement hurdles that include cultural and language barriers, grief and loss, and acculturation stress, within an environment of encouraged fear and mistrust of their families and communities. In this stressful sociopolitical context, refugee youth are in need of effective prevention and intervention services to support their behavioral health and educational success. However, providers engaged with refugee youth often lack sufficient data to inform culturally tailored and nuanced services. Therefore, an urgent need exists to gain knowledge related to factors that promote or inhibit refugee well-being in the current and shifting sociopolitical context.

This symposium was developed with the goal of strengthening understanding of both individual and systemic risk and protective factors encountered by subgroups of refugee youth and youth with refugee parents. Quantitative, qualitative, and community-based participatory research strategies are employed to explore contributors to psychological well-being among Southeast Asian children of refugees, substance use in Karen refugee youth, and educational experiences of Congolese refugee youth. Implications will be discussed in regard to macro- and micro-level service provision that includes culturally tailored prevention and intervention strategies to strengthen behavioral health and educational outcomes of youth in refugee families.

* noted as presenting author
Community As Intermediary in Education Pathways of Congolese Refugee Youth
Odessa Gonzalez Benson, PhD, MSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, PhD, University of Michigan; Mieko Yoshihama, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Irene Routte, University of Michigan
WITHDRAWN Risk and Protective Factors for Substance Use in a Karen Refugee Youth Population
Jennifer McCleary, PhD, University of Minnesota-Duluth; Tonya Horn, Ph.D., University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul; Kendra Rooney, BA, University of Minnesota-Duluth; Ner Mu, Karen Organization of Minnesota
Effects of Ethnic-Racial Socialization on Psychological Well-Being for Southeast Asian Children of Refugees
Cindy Sangalang, University of California, Los Angeles; Madonna Cadiz, MSW, University of California, Los Angeles; Tracy W. Harachi, PhD, University of Washington
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