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Mental health of Syrian asylum seekers residing in camps : risk and protective cactors with a mixed-methods study

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2014
Cantekin, Duygu
The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible risk factors and the coping resources during three phases of forced migration for mental health outcomes of Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey. 111 asylum seekers staying in three different camps were recruited by means of convenience sampling. The mixed-method research design was utilized. Participants were administered an interview package including informed consent form, socio-demographic form, semi-structured interview, Harvard Trauma Questionnaire Revised Part I and IV, Post-Migration Living Difficulties, Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25. Quantitative analyses revealed that young, female and unmarried asylum seekers were at-risk groups for mental health problems. Among pre-migration traumatic events, forced separation and loss of loved ones was found as a significant predictor for post-traumatic stress and depression whereas among post-migration living difficulties, loss of culture and support was observed as more impactful determinant of each symptom domain. Qualitative results indicated that participants reported using a number of resources which helped them to overcome the deleterious effects of their experiences, including differential social support from different resources, reliance on religious faith, a sense of commitment to a political cause of war and personal attitudes. The social, political and cultural realities specific to context were noted to be paid attention to understand asylum seekers’ experiences and their effects on them. The findings of the study were expected to have implications for intervention development targeting current stressors as well as traumatic events, and program and policy development aimed at improving life conditions and strengthening support systems of asylum seekers to promote coping.