What is it about?

Refugee integration has been the focus of intense debate. In post-migration settings, refugees face challenges related to their forced migration experience, and have needs and vulnerabilities that, if left unaddressed, can severely impact their mental health and ability to successfully integrate into their new communities. This study examines the prevalence of pre- and post-migration trauma and stressors as determinants of mental health in Syrian war-exposed civilians living in Portugal.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that, much like war trauma, wartime daily challenges and resettlement stressors associated with state-sponsored host conditions, status of the ongoing conflict, and subsequent to temporary returns to Syria, can severely impact refugees' mental health in resettlement. Host countries need to create opportunities for agency and autonomy that promote refugees’ integration prospects and ability to initiate their path to recovery.


Despite my many years working in the field with survivors of torture and refugee trauma, the level of trauma exposure encountered in this sample was staggering. The majority of study participants were beneficiaries of higher education programs for refugees - and therefore neither had refugee status nor did they perceive themselves as refugees - who minimized their extreme experiences compared to so-called "real refugees". It was then, and remains still, a humbling and inspiring experience.

Lisa Matos
ISPA - William James Center for Research

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: “That is not my country anymore”: Pre- and postdisplacement trauma, stressors, and distress in war-affected Syrian civilians., Psychological Trauma Theory Research Practice and Policy, January 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/tra0001031.
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