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Survivors of Hell: Resilience Amongst Unaccompanied Minor Refugees and Implications for Treatment- a Narrative Review.

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Rodriguez, Irene Mateos  ORCID logo
Dobler, Veronika 


UNLABELLED: Approximately half of the world's displaced population are children and a significant proportion of these are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). UASC are the most vulnerable of all refugee populations. Up to 90% of UASC have been subjected to exploitation, including trafficking or being drafted into military groups. Having survived the perils of flight, UASC are confronted with continued challenges, including the uncertainties regarding their residential rights in host counties. Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of mental health problems is higher amongst UASC than in any other refugee group. Yet, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) appears to neither reach nor engage UASC. This begs for re-examination of what and how MHPSS is offered. Despite high levels of adversity, UASC often have considerable resilience, and make remarkable recoveries. However, literature exploring their resources or their own views of what helps or hinders recovery is scarce. In this narrative review, we explore individual and systemic factors promoting recovery in UASC. We consider theoretical understanding of resilience, emerging data and user perspectives. From these we deduct four areas of resilience in UASC: Individual factors - prosocial behaviour, problem-solving skills; Lifetime relationships - positive early family relationships, connection with family and country of origin, positive peer and adult relationships in host country; Acculturation - integration of own and new culture, positive relationships with prosocial institutions; Care arrangements - supported but less restrictive living arrangements. We suggest, MHPSS may need to focus on enhancing social networks, including connectedness with positive relationships in the home-country, life-history work with a focus on resource-building experiences in addition to trauma, and promoting integration of old and new cultural values. We also conclude that despite growing data, there is a gap in both eliciting user perspectives and understanding adaptive resources, especially those emerging during early development and within their cultural setting. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s40653-021-00385-7.



Connectedness, MHPSS, Refugees, Relationships, Resilience, Unaccompanied minors

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J Child Adolesc Trauma

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC