Sorrow shared is halved? War trauma experienced by others and mental health among Darfuri asylum seekers

Author(s): Shirley REGEV, Vered SLONIM-NEVO

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2019.01.049

Abstract

Research suggests that the ethnic community plays a major role in the mental health of traumatized refugees arriving from collective societies. This study explored the relationships between war-related trauma and mental health separately for direct trauma exposure (i.e., events directly endorsed by asylum-seekers) and indirect trauma exposure (i.e., events endorsed by family, friends and other community members). Data for 300 Darfuri asylum-seekers living in Israel were obtained in a cross-sectional design. Hierarchical regressions were used to examine how direct versus indirect trauma exposure were associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depressive and anxiety symptoms and psychological well-being. Results showed that direct trauma exposure was associated with worse mental health symptoms and reduced well-being. In contrast, indirect trauma exposure to similar events of others was linked with fewer PTSD, depressive and anxiety symptoms and improved well-being. These findings offer preliminary insights into the nature of trauma and mental health in asylum-seekers from collective cultures: While trauma directly experienced by the individual is associated with increased risk for poor mental health; exposure to others’ similar experiences may be associated with reduced emotional distress. Findings are discussed in terms of their potential implications for culturally sensitive assessment and group therapy in refugees.

Keywords

PTSD, Depression, Social support, Refugees, Cross-cultural, DSM-5

Tags: Darfur, Sudan, Israel, Asylum seekers, Refugees, Depression, Anxiety, PSTD, Social support, War trauma, Traumatic life events

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