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Type: Journal article
Title: Refugee students' psychological wellbeing and experiences in the Australian education system: a mixed-methods investigation
Author: Ziaian, T.
de Anstiss, H.
Puvimanasinghe, T.
Miller, E.
Citation: Australian Psychologist, 2018; 53(4):345-354
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Issue Date: 2018
ISSN: 0005-0067
Statement of
Tahereh Ziaian, Helena de Anstiss, Teresa Puvimanasinghe, and Emily Miller
Abstract: Objectives: Refugee children and adolescents are widely acknowledged to experience multiple disadvantages that place them at increased risk of poor education and employment outcomes, which in turn affect their mental health and well-being. The aim of this study is to explore the interconnection between their educational and schooling experiences, and mental health outcomes. Method: We used a mixed methods approach. Participants included a multiethnic sample of 495 South Australian refugee children (4–12 years) and adolescents (13–17 years) from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and former Yugoslavia. Mental health outcomes were assessed using the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Thirteen focus groups with 85 refugee adolescents aged 13–17 years explored their educational experiences and well-being. Results: Quantitative analysis revealed differences between teacher, parent, and adolescent self-ratings, with teachers identifying a higher proportion of refugee students with mental health problems than parents or adolescents. The focus groups identified inadequate educational support, parental pressure to excel, heavy family and household responsibilities, supporting psychologically distressed parents, and school based discrimination and racism as barriers to their educational progress. Qualitative results also afforded plausible explanations for the discrepancy between teacher-ratings with parent- and adolescent self-ratings of the mental health. Conclusion: Analysis of both quantitative and qualitative findings provides insight into the interconnection between educational and schooling experiences of young refugees and their mental health. Avenues for further research include developing and evaluating more holistic models of education to address the interrelated education and mental health needs of refugee youth.
Keywords: Australia; education; mental health; refugee; youth
Description: Accepted for publication 28 May 2017
Rights: © 2017 The Australian Psychological Society
RMID: 0030074300
DOI: 10.1111/ap.12301
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Appears in Collections:Psychology publications

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