Exploring the Psychosocial Needs of Syrian Refugees in the UK: Accounts of Community Service Providers

UoM administered thesis: Doctor of Counselling Psychology

  • Authors:
  • Faten Sabouni

Abstract

Since 2011, the brutal and complex war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and created millions of refugees. This dismaying and rapidly unfolding crisis has contributed to the biggest movement of people through the continent since the Second World War. The United Kingdom was one of many destinations for Syrian refugees seeking protection. With this, members of the Syrian community have come together to provide support to newly arrived Syrian refugees. Literature documenting the mental health difficulties that Syrian refugees present with and the range of support provided by these community services remains severely limited. In the context of this gap, the overall aim of this study was to explore the psychological needs with which Syrian refugees in the UK present, as well as the service provision responses to these needs. In order to do this, the research utilised a qualitative methodology and elicited in-depth data from multiple perspectives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and the inductive thematic analysis generated the following themes: Pre-displacement challenges; Displacement challenges; Post-displacement challenges; Coping and Resilience; Service providers’ role and Challenges for contextually appropriate mental health care. The findings of this study suggested that Syrian refugees in the United Kingdom present with wide range of mental health needs, including struggles caused by exposure to brutal conflict, violence, multiple losses and cultural stressors. Findings stated that community services are providing an array of basic and social support; however, mental health needs are unmet. Barriers to accessing mental health resources in the UK have been addressed and the need to develop a multi-layered, culturally sensitive response to Syrian refugees’ mental health difficulties has been identified. The Discussion proposed the need to support community services in order to raise awareness, enhance Syrian refugees’ psychological well-being and inform the development of culturally sensitive mental health services. With the growing number of Syrian refugees in the UK, this research has provided a contextualisation of this population’s culture, religion, resilience, coping strategies and mental health needs from the provider perspective, which is important to improve awareness and identify specific issues contributing to mental health well-being. Recommendations are suggested for developing culturally sensitive mental health services for Syrian refugees, alongside acknowledging limitations of the research and suggestions for further investigation and practice.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Aug 2019