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Migration, Mental Health, and Refugee Youth in Africa and African Diaspora

02 August 2012
12:15 - 13:30


Date : 02 August 2012

Time : 12:15 – 13:30

This research presentation highlights key issues in the mental health and psychosocial adaptation of African and African Diaspora youth who are migrants, refugees, and undocumented.  Migrant youth, particularly those from conflict and post-conflict contexts, face unique challenges as they navigate the dual roles of developmental transitions to adulthood whilst adapting to the socio-cultural and economic milieu of resettlement and transit countries. Often the adaptation of migrant youth in transit countries of the South (such as South Africa, Tanzania, and Ghana) and  resettlement countries of the North (such as Canada, Australia, and the USA) gives rise to identity-related issues including belonging, cultural continuity and acculturation and for youth who are fleeing from conflict and violence, issues of trauma and loss. These factors have been well established as critical contributors to the success or challenges of adaptation and psychosocial wellbeing for this population. Our research in this area uses the theoretical hardware from resilience, hope, multicultural counselling, critical theory, and positive youth development to examine the experiences and needs of migrant youth who are transitioning to adulthood. Through research and community practice/engagement within refugee youth and families in Canada we have begun to see some trends in resilience coping mechanisms that have not been addressed in previous research – namely the role of African cultural values in shaping behaviors and seeking social supports. This presentation will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss research related to resilience factors in the health and wellbeing of African migrant youth in Africa and the Diaspora.

Dr Sophie Yohani, PhD., R. Psych.

Dr. Yohani is a psychologist, educator, transcultural mental health specialist, and community organizer who was born in Tanzania and has lived in Canada for 16 years. She is Assistant Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Alberta and the Director of the Faculty of Education’s Clinical Services, a university-based community training centre for graduate students.  Dr. Yohani maintains a research and practice interest in refugee and immigrant mental health, child and adult psychological trauma, and community-based mental health practices that promote hope and resilience. Dr. Yohani has published, trained and presented at national and international conferences on topics related to resilience, hope, working with refugee children, youth and women with histories of trauma including sexualized violence. She also supervises masters and doctoral students who are conducting research in this area.  Dr. Yohani says that her recognition and respect for the power and strength of the human spirit and the role of hope originally came from work with street-involved youth in Tanzania in the early 1990s. Her article “Creating and Ecology of Hope” explores the use of hope-focused discussions to draw out strength and resilience in youth and their families.  

Dr Nene Ernest Khalema, PhD. is a Senior Research Specialist within the Human and Social Development at HSRC and Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, Canada. A medical sociologist and public health researcher by training, Dr Khalema’ has contributed research projects in the area of social epidemiology, transcultural mental health; youth transitions; racialization and imaginations of difference; employment security; community development, and most importantly migration.   He is a book review editor for Africa Media Review and an Assistant Editor for the journal: Ardent Antiracism and Decolonization Review. Dr Khalema also sits on the editorial boards of two high impact international journals (i.e. Pan African Medical Journal and Health Sociology Review). Dr Khalema is the co-author of a forthcoming book entitled: Africa Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Exploring the Multi-Dimensional Discourses on ‘Development’ (Cambridge Scholars Publishing-2012) and has published in the Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, International Journal of Migration, Health, and Social Care; and the  Canadian Journal of Public Health.

                                        Kindly RSVP by 29 July 2012 

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