Syria: coping mechanisms utilised by displaced refugee parents caring for their children in pre-resettlement contexts

Abstract: Evidence shows an increased risk of psychological distress and mental health problems in refugee populations. Despite this, refugees often display the ability to continue to function, to recover and live meaningful and productive lives. Parents’ mental health and coping style is significant to the mental health and wellbeing of their children. The aim of this study was to explore the coping mechanisms utilised by displaced Syrian refugees who care for children. Twenty-seven mothers and two professional aid workers in refugee camps and humanitarian contexts in Turkey and Syria participated in interviews or focus groups. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Data were structured into three themes: adaptation to a new norm, such as acceptance, normalisation and gratitude; reaching out for support, such as in aiding problem solving and gaining support; keeping mentally strong using faith to soothe pain and to motivate to parent well. A number of themes associated with Syrian refugee coping during pre-resettlement were identified. These themes may be translated into strategies to improve culturally appropriate psychosocial interventions in such settings.

El-Khani, Aala; Ulph, Fiona; Peters, Sarah; Calam, Rachel Less