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Physical and psychological resilience and migration 

Physical and psychological resilience and migration
Chapter:
Physical and psychological resilience and migration
Author(s):

Bex Willans

, and Sarah Stewart-Brown

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198833741.003.0026
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date: 07 May 2021

Whereas in the past, resilience was seen as a character trait of the few, enabling a ‘bounce back’ to some prior healthy state, it is described as something that is transitional, that enables a ‘bouncing forward’ for all those who experience growth from having survived or even thrived through challenging experiences. This interpretation enables action as it opens the possibility of exploring what can be put in place to ensure these experiences can be opportunities for positive change for all, leading to improved mental well-being and physical health. While for most migrants the act of migration is an active choice driven by hopes for life improvement, migration can create challenges. For refugee and asylum-seeker populations, who have been the focus of most migrant-resilience research, their status suggests an increased likelihood of having experienced adversity and a risk of experiencing ongoing challenges. Qualitative studies with migrant populations indicate high levels of resilience, including personal characteristics, beliefs, behaviours, and cultural understandings that enable people to survive and even thrive following such experiences. Policies and interventions to support resilience should include both external protective factors such as access to basic human needs, social integration and relationships in destination countries, and services for those who require intervention. Few intervention studies use asset-focused outcomes such as resilience and well-being, and there is an opportunity for established and emerging therapies to use these to enhance evaluation and understanding.

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