Ecologies of Resilience for Australian High School Students from Refugee Backgrounds: Quantitative Study

Emily Miller, Tahereh Ziaian, Helena De Anstiss, Melanie Baak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Forced displacement of refugees, currently at record levels, leads to increased cultural diversity in many countries with benefits and challenges for individuals, communities, and societies. Refugees often face significant stressors both pre- and post-migration, and hence are at increased risk of poor mental health and wellbeing. Children and adolescents make up a significant proportion of refugees globally, and hence mental health supports for these young people are crucial. Current mental health research often uses pathologized approaches that focus on trauma, although there is growing literature highlighting the importance of a sense of belonging and the reduction in discrimination and social exclusion, emphasizing strengths and agency of individuals and communities. Resilience is often noted for its positive influence on mental health and wellbeing; however, research regarding how mechanisms of resilience function is still developing. This study investigated mental health and wellbeing of refugee-background Australian youth to better understand the role and function of resilience. Findings suggest that intersecting social ecologies, such as those within family, school, or community networks, contribute to development of identity and a sense of belonging for youth, which together form a resilient system that provides resources for wellbeing. Adaptations of school policy and practice can support positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes by contributing to and developing resilient environments, such as through building connections to family, improving positive recognition of cultural identity for individuals and across the whole school community, and actively working to minimize discrimination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number748
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Mental health
  • Refugee
  • Resettlement
  • Resilience
  • School
  • Student
  • Wellbeing


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