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Identity and Psychological Well-being: Experiences of Zimbabwean Males Seeking Asylum in the UK

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posted on 2010-10-13, 13:58 authored by Helen Miller
In many western nations, immigration policies place significant restrictions upon individuals seeking asylum, such as denying them access to employment. The literature review set out to explore whether factors related to the post-migratory environment have implications for forced migrants’ identity and psychological well-being, via the loss of social roles. Systematic literature searches were conducted, resulting in a total of 27 relevant papers to be reviewed. It was tentatively concluded that both unemployment and social isolation contribute to the high levels of psychological distress observed amongst forced migrant populations, and that this relationship is mediated by social role loss. However, the synthesis of findings across studies was limited by methodological weaknesses and the range of nationalities studied. It was suggested that further research is required. The research study employed a qualitative, semi-structured interview design to explore identity issues and psychological well-being in a sample of seven Zimbabwean males seeking asylum in the UK. The data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Participants described negative consequences for their identities as a result of the economic and political downturn in Zimbabwe and revealed that their identities were further threatened upon arrival in the UK due to the many losses they had incurred by migrating. The legislative restrictions imposed upon them and the negative social representations they were exposed to as asylum seekers also served to threaten their identities and to undermine attempts to rebuild a positive sense of themselves. However, all participants described having regained some positive aspects of their identities and many talked about personal growth as a result of the adversity they had experienced. The findings were interpreted with reference to previous research and relevant psychological theory. Implications for clinical practice and suggestions for future research were discussed. The critical appraisal provides the researchers’ personal reflections on the research process.



Melluish, Steve

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University of Leicester

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