Exploring Refugee Young People's Conceptualisation of their wellbeing

Prof Doc Thesis

Cullerton, Shannon 2017. Exploring Refugee Young People's Conceptualisation of their wellbeing. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.6467
AuthorsCullerton, Shannon
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Refugee young people (RYP) represent a growing and clinically significant population in the UK. Research and practice knowledge suggests that they face multiple challenges and have particular and complex needs. Despite this, reports indicate that refugee young people currently under-utilise mental health services. A growing body of literature argues that it is problematic that research and practice in the field of psychology are primarily bound to Western constructs and models of understanding. This position contends that such constructs often inadequately or inappropriately address the needs of this population. While this debate has particularly centred around concepts of psychopathology and trauma, relatively little attention has been paid to the validity and relevance of the concept of wellbeing when applied to RYP. The present study sought to investigate how wellbeing is understood and constructed by one group of RYP, in order to consider the relevance and applicability of dominant conceptualisations.
A social constructionist-critical realist epistemological position was taken to explore this group of RYP's understandings and beliefs about wellbeing. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten young people from refugee backgrounds who had recently arrived in the UK. The transcripts were submitted to a thematic analysis through which three main themes were identified: ‘Managing Current Contexts’, ‘Moving Forward’ and ‘Practicing Faith’. These themes captured the influence of participants’ current context of seeking asylum and underscored the imperative role of underlying beliefs and faith in frameworks of understanding wellbeing. They also highlighted the central role that ideas of hope and moving forward held for participants. As such, analysis of the data drew attention to socio-cultural variations that exist in constructions of wellbeing, indicating that wellbeing is a concept strongly informed by individual context and grounded in one’s cultural and religious beliefs and assumptions.
Conceptions of psychological and social wellbeing have significant implications for devising psychological treatment and policies aimed at ameliorating RYP’s difficulties. The findings from this study call for improved knowledge and consideration in research and practice on the impact of contextual, cultural and religious factors to constructs of wellbeing. Psychologists and policy makers need to question the taken-for-granted assumptions that underlie our theories and pre-shape our understandings, concepts and frameworks used.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.6467
Publication dates
PrintMay 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Jan 2018
Publisher's version
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