Resilience and vulnerability: Supporting the integration of unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors in the United Kingdom
There is a general agreement in the existing research that unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors (UAMs) are a particularly vulnerable group as a result of their traumatic experiences of forced migration and displacement (Weine et al., 2014; Thommessen et al., 2013; Chase, 2013). The characterization of UAMs as vulnerable has fundamentally shaped the way health and social care professionals respond to the mental health needs and wellbeing of UAMs. Yet, whilst it is clear that UAMs are vulnerable because they face plethora of challenges linked to their past traumatic experiences and present resettlement-related stressors, the evidence suggests that most of these minors show resilience (Ni Raghallaigh and Gilligan, 2010; Chase et al., 2008). This study contributes to the theoretical and empirical exploration of the concepts of the vulnerability and resilience of UAMs as they integrate in the host community of resettlement in the UK. Based on a socio-ecological paradigm, this project aimed to explore the perspectives of UAMs on the protective factors that foster resilience among them that will inform the development of an evidence-based psychosocial intervention with a dual foci of resilience enhancement and psychological distress reduction in UAMs. A three stage mixed methods exploratory design was utilized: 1) systematic review of protective factors and processes of resilience among asylum-seeking and refugee adolescents; 2) qualitative study of UAMs' perspective on protective factors that foster resilience; 3) six months evaluation of the Taking Part (TP) manualized psychosocial intervention for resilience building of UAMs. Results indicated that the TP intervention was effective at enhancing resilience and reducing psychological distress in the participants. Moderate effect sizes were found for the TP intervention, and it presents a feasible and effective psychosocial approach to fostering resilience among UAMs that may facilitate their integration in the host community of resettlement. Longitudinal mixed methods study is needed to further assess the TP intervention effectiveness and scalability.
- School of Sport and Health Sciences