Stress and Mental Health of Refugees- An Illustrative Review

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

April 2017

Faculty Sponsor

April Masarik


From the time of displacement to resettlement, refugees may experience trauma and multiple transitions that ultimately affect their mental health. Resettlement is further compounded by challenges such as acquiring a new language, adjusting to a new culture, and changing family roles.

This presentation concerns the effect of resettlement stress on refugees’ mental health. Based on an illustrative review of empirical reports, we review common themes including sources of stress, conservation of resources, redefined selfhood, and coping mechanisms shown to buffer certain stress pathways.

Based on our illustrative review, we found that various resettlement stressors often lead to mental health issues. Given prior experiences of trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was an expected outcome; however, there were inconsistencies in the research regarding the relationship between PTSD and resettlement stressors. Lack of Westernized mental health literacy may also contribute to common mental health issues like depression and PTSD.

Although refugees may experience a multitude of stressors, researchers have found various moderators that can act as buffers in the stress process like acculturation style, faith, coping skills, and social support. Understanding the manifestation of stressors as well as effective coping mechanisms is crucial in order to aid refugees as they adjust and resettle.

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