Protective Factors that Promote Resilience Among Refugees

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

April S. Masarik


The world is currently facing an influx of 22.5 million refugees due to war and religious persecution (UNHCR, 2017). As a result, scholars and clinicians have become particularly interested in their mental health. Trauma prior to and after resettlement may lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. It is important to look at healthy ways in which refugees cope so that programs and policies intended to serve refugees can be tailored to their needs. Resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to bounce back from stressors when facing difficult times and is important when looking at refugee trauma (e.g., Nam et al., 2016). In this illustrative review, we relied on the Family Stress Model framework to highlight four different protective factors (e.g., individual differences, family dynamics, school environment, and community belonging) that promote resilience in the face of stress (Masarik & Conger, 2017). The common theme found was the influence of support and its ability to reduce psychological distress. Limitations to the studies are provided and future research is needed to fill in the gaps in order to gain a holistic understanding of how these factors may promote resiliency for refugees facing PTSD and depressive symptoms.

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